Mr. Lewis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many local authorities and organisations representing local authorities, responding to the paper "Action on Dogs", were in favour of registration as a means of tackling the stray dogs problem ; (2) how many responses were received from local authorities, and organisations representing local authorities, to the Government's consultation paper "Action on Dogs".
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Out of 462 local authorities and organisations known to represent them, 247 responded to our consultation paper and 207 of those who responded supported a dog registration scheme of some kind.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps have been taken to assess the dog registration scheme in Northern Ireland with a view to applying that scheme in the rest of the United Kingdom.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : My officials have made contact with officials in the Department of Agriculture, Northern Ireland, with a view to discussing with them their experience of the operation of the various dog control provisions in force in Northern Ireland, and in particular the enforcement of the requirement for dogs to wear identification tags. We believe that the enforcement of this existing requirement would be more effective than an elaborate registration scheme in solving the problems caused by irresponsible dog owners. Officials from my Department will be visiting Northern Ireland shortly for this purpose.
Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the danger posed by toxic waste tips to drinking water supplies and on current filling and safety regulations in respect of toxic tips ; and what plans he has to amend these regulations in the future.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : There are a range of statutory controls which provide effective protection of drinking water supplies. First, there is a requirement for waste disposal authorities--in considering applications for disposal licences made under the Control of Pollution Act 1974--to have regard to possible risks of water pollution, and to consult with the National Rivers Authority. Under provisions in the current Environmental Protection Bill, we propose to strengthen and extend the licensing controls. Secondly, under the Water Act 1989, water undertakings are under a statutory duty to supply wholesome water, and it is an offence to supply water
Column 220which is unfit for human consumption. Thirdly, we have recently announced the formation of a new drinking water inspectorate whose job it will be to check that supplies meet the standards defined in the new water quality regulations. Fourthly, the NRA also have extensive programmes for monitoring the quality of ground and surface waters. Consequently, we now have a strong set of safeguards for drinking water supplies and I have no plans to amend the basic system of controls in this area.
Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many council-owned properties in the Bolton metropolitan borough area were renovated in 1989 and during each of the last 10 years ; and what was the amount of Government grants given in respect of this work during the same period.
Mr. Chope : The number of renovations completed on local authority- owned dwellings in England appears in "Local Housing Statistics" [volumes 55 (table 9), 58 (table 7) and table 4 of volumes 65, 69, 73, 77, 81, 85, 89, 90 and 91 (first half 1989)]. Copies are available in the Library.
The cost of renovation works undertaken by a council is included in the calculation of its entitlement to main housing subsidy. Bolton received £3,070,669 in subsidy in 1981-82 and £126,447 in 1982-83. It has since been out of subsidy.
Mr. Chope : Latest estimates of households temporarily resident in bed-and-breakfast accommodation appear in table 4(a) of "Local authorities' action under the homelessness provisions of the 1985 Housing Act : England. Results for the third quarter 1989. Supplementary Tables", which is in the Library.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimates he has made of the percentage of persons listed on community charge registers who will fail to pay the charge in 1990-91 for English shire counties ; and what guidance he has issued to local authorities as to the estimates they should make for default when deciding on the amount of charge to meet their planned expenditure.
Mr. Chope : The Department has made no estimates of the proportion of charge payers who may fail to pay community charges and sees no need to offer advice on this to charging authorities. We have issued practice notes on steps that charging authorities may take to minimise arrears, and more flexible instalment regimes and improved powers of enforcement should improve authorities' ability to obtain arrears compared with that under the domestic rating system.
Column 221Deane borough council assumed for the purposes of his calculations of illustrative combined capital value rates and local income tax published on 6 November 1989.
|£ million -------------------------------------------------- Somerset county council |222.367 Taunton Deane borough council |4.306
Mr. Nellist : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, further to his answer to the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East on 6 February, Official Report, columns 582-83, if he will list all departmental circulars, excluding practice notes, issued by his Department in connection with the community charge, giving in each case, the date of issue and an outline of the contents ; and if he will indicate whether copies of such have been placed in the Library.
Mr. Chope [holding answer 13 February 1990] : No numbered departmental circulars have been issued about the community charge. A number of letters have been sent to all charging authorities. These are as follows :
Date of issue |Contents --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1988 25 July |Community charge costs: Price Waterhouse | study 5 August |Local Government Finance Act 15 December |Community charge regulations: Valuation and | Community Charge Tribunals 16 December |Community charge preparation costs 1989 31 January |Community charge students regulations 31 January |Implementation of the community charge 28 February |Community charge implementation and | minority language translations 17 March |Implementation of rates reform 3 May |Implementation of the community charge and | NNDR: questionnaire 5 May |Leaflet: "The community charge (the so-called | Poll Tax): how it will work for you" 5 May |Payment of specific grant for community charge 10 May |United Kingdom service personnel 10 August |Community charge registration and data | protection 18 September |Amendments to practice notes 11 October |Safety net and transitional relief 13 October |Payment of specific grant for community charge | preparation 20 October |Community charge transitional relief 20 October |Community charge bill 26 October |Amendments to practice notes 3 November |Exemption for those severely mentally impaired 9 November |Community charge transitional relief 16 November |Local Government and Housing Act 1989: | amendments to Local Government Finance | Act 22 November |Transitional relief scheme-details 15 December |Community charge bill-details 28 December |Community charge: amendments to practice | notes 1990 10 January |Community charge transitional relief | regulations 9 February |Designation of Ministry of Defence | Establishments
Details of those letters amending practice notes are placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will provide comparable figures to his November estimate of the amount of poll tax payable in 1990-91 per adult as against rates for each region and each metropolitan area and county council.
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what criteria he proposes to use to charge-cap those authorities whose proposed community charge is unacceptably high ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chope : My right hon. Friend receives representations from time to time from hon. Members' interest groups and members of the public. I also refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) on 13 December 1989, Official Report, column 711.
Mr. Trippier : Government policy is to encourage international action to reduce transfrontier shipment of hazardous waste for disposal to the environmentally justified minimum and to monitor and control effectively, those movements that are necessary. These objectives are being pursued in discussions with the European Community, OECD and UNEP and through the provisions of national legislation.
Column 223assessment he has made of the danger posed by such dumps to water supplies within the Newcastle-under-Lyme constituency.
Mr. Trippier : These are matters for waste disposal authorities. They are required to operate disposal licensing controls under the Control of Pollution Act 1974, acting in consultation with what is now the National Rivers Authority, in order to prevent risks of water pollution. Under provisions in the Environmental Protection Bill, waste regulation authorities will also be required to inspect and monitor closed landfill sites.
The recently publicised 1974 survey was a desk assessment to assist the relevant authorities in carrying out their statutory responsibilities. Since then, the Department has had an active research programme into the behaviour and characteristics of landfill sites, the results of which have been reflected in a series of waste management papers issued by the Department.
Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he is taking to prevent councils from avoiding competition by submitting contracts to tender in a way guaranteed to favour their own work force.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : The Department investigates all complaints of anti-competitive practices by local authorities on their merits. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has powers of sanction under sections 19A and 19B of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 and sections 13 and 14 of the Local Government Act 1988 and will use them where necessary. To date, notices under section 19A of the 1980 Act have been served on the metropolitan borough of Wirral and the London borough of Brent. A direction was subsequently given to the metropolitan borough of Wirral under section 19B of that Act. Notices under section 13 of the Local Government Act 1988 have been served on five local authorities--the London borough of Hillingdon, Bristol city council, Wolverhampton metropolitan borough council, Knowsley metropolitan borough council and Charnwood borough council. My right hon. Friend is currently considering responses received from these authorities.
Mr. Michael Spicer : Latest estimates of households accepted as homeless in England appear in table 1(a) of "Local authorities' action under the homelessness provisions of the 1985 Housing Act : England. Results for the third quarter 1989. Supplementary Tables", which is in the Library.
For information about Wales, I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.
Mr. Chope : Under the Non-Domestic Rating Contributions (England) Regulations 1989 (SI 2435), charging authorities in inner London, in calculating their provisional contributions to the national non-domestic rating pool, may deduct an allowance for possible losses of 0.45 per cent. of their estimated rate yield for the year. The regulations provide for all losses to be offset against contributions to the pool at outturn stage, subject to audit. Provision may be made at outturn stage for amounts which may have to be written off, again subject to audit. These arrangements were agreed by the local authority associations.
Mr. William Powell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the 1990-91 revenue support grant entitlement per head of population, before safety net adjustments, for each borough and district council in Northamptonshire, in descending order of magnitude.
1990-91 Rate support grant per adult before safety net adjustments Area |RSG before |safety net |(£ adult) --------------------------------------------- Northampton |239 Corby |233 Wellingborough |223 Kettering |222 Daventry |213 East Northamptonshire |212 South Northamptonshire |204
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has considered the issue of liability in respect of damage caused to the environment as a result of the release of a genetically engineered organism.
Column 225Mr. Trippier : Part VI of the Environmental Protection Bill refers to the setting up of a statutory control system for genetically modified (engineered) organisms, making provision for criminal offences in the case of breach, including the general duties for preventing damage to the environment. Express provisions relating to civil liability are not included. However, Lord Lewis, chairman of the Royal Commission on environmental pollution, referred to the question of strict civil liability in his letter to the Secretary of State of 6 February. I am considering the position further.
Mrs. Currie : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will set out a table showing for each year since 1981 the expenditure of Derbyshire county council in (a) cash terms, (b) constant price terms and (c) cash terms per head of population.
Net current expenditure-Derbyshire county council |Cash terms |Real terms- |Cash terms |1981-82 |per head |prices |£ million |£ million<1>|£<2> ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1981-82 |268.0 |268.0 |294 1982-83 |296.8 |276.8 |326 1983-84 |313.3 |279.2 |344 1984-85 |365.9 |310.6 |401 1985-86 |357.4 |287.9 |392 1986-87 |397.4 |309.7 |433 1987-88 |442.2 |327.3 |481 1988-89 |486.2 |335.5 |526 1989-90 |503.3 |324.6 |544 <1>Using the GDP deflator to convert from cash values to constant prices. <2>Population figures used to derive per capita values are latest available Office of Population Censuses and Surveys mid-year estimates of total population.
Mrs. Currie : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will set out a table showing for each year since 1981 the staffing levels of Derbyshire county council (a) full time, (b) part time and (c) in total.
Derbyshire county council: All services at June |Full-time|Part-time|Total -------------------------------------------------- 1981 |20,517 |17,891 |38,408 1982 |20,217 |18,455 |38,672 1983 |20,765 |18,342 |39,107 1984 |20,817 |18,764 |39,581 1985 |20,764 |19,252 |40,016 1986 |20,903 |21,234 |42,137 1987 |21,412 |23,501 |44,913 1988 |22,569 |25,081 |47,650 1989 |22,712 |23,593 |46,305
(2) what is the projected cost of equipping the Property Services Agency with the Thesis computer system.
Mr. Chope : The Thesis system is designed to provide IT support to PSA's maintenance management and associated operations throughout the United Kingdom. The equipment is estimated to cost £12.8 million over the next two years. The system is reviewed periodically against PSA's changing requirements. A review is now in progress in the light of PSA's transition to a commercial organisation and subsequent privatisation.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the discussions between representatives of the United States air force and the Property Services Agency about the implications for the United States air force of Property Services Agency privatisation.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate he has made of the time it is expected to take for the Property Services Agency to move from vote accounting to full commercial accounting in a trading fund.
Mr. Chope : It is planned to introduce full commercial accounts with effect from 1 April 1991. So long as the PSA remains a Government Department, it will retain vote accounts in parallel. There are no plans to establish PSA as a trading fund.
Mr. Chope : At 1 February 1988, there were eight grade 6 staff ; four grade 5 staff and one grade 3. At 1 February 1989, there were eight grade 6 staff ; three grade 5 staff and one grade 3. At 1 February 1990, there were six grade 6 staff ; five grade 5 and one grade 3.
Mr. Michael Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for the environment what action his Department is taking to deal with the West Sussex toxic and domestic waste sites posing some risk to water in his Department's list of landfill sites in England and Wales.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory [holding answer 9 February 1990] : The 1973-74 survey, featured in a recent newspaper article, was a desk assessment of possible risks to assist statutory authorities in controlling and monitoring waste disposal sites under public health legislation and, subsequently, the licensing requirements of the Control of Pollution Act 1974. The information was made available to the appropriate authorities at the time.
Column 227Since then, West Sussex county council and the Southern water authority will have monitored waste disposal sites and ground and surface waters in their areas in accordance with their
responsibilities under the Water Act 1973 and the Control of Pollution Act 1974, which include powers to take action over pollution where this occurs.
Detailed, up-to-date information is not held centrally on the location of waste disposal sites and safeguards taken. Under the Water Act 1989, the National Rivers Authority now has responsibility for monitoring ground and surface waters and is currently reviewing the scope of these programmes. We are providing it with the list of sites identified in the 1973-74 survey for possible reference purposes.
Mr. Robert Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will set out the reasons for the variations in the standard spending assessment between the Harrogate borough council on a per capita basis, York city council and Scarborough borough council.
Mr. Chope [holding answer 12 February 1990] : The standard spending assessments for these three authorities have been calculated in accordance with the formulae set out in the Revenue Support Grant Distribution Report (England). The table gives details for the three authorities of the amount of SSA in £/adult which is attributable to each of the indicators used to calculate their SSAs. The indicators are defined in annex A to the distribution report.
SSA £/per head of relevant population Indicator |Harrogate |York |Scarborough --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Resident population |81 |75 |77 Daytime net inflow |-1 |3 |0 Visitors nights |1 |1 |5 Ward weighted density |10 |26 |12 Social index |-21 |-1 |-14 Sparsity |14 |0 |11 Transfer to North Yorks CC |-8 |-8 |-8 County level services |1 |1 |1 Flood defence |1 |1 |0 Coast protection |0 |0 |2 Interest receipts |-2 |-3 |-2 Total Other Services |75 |95 |84 Total Capital Financing |6 |6 |8 Total SSA |81 |102 |91
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory [holding answer 13 February 1990] : Financial measures are not necessary ; stationery made from recycled fibre can already fulfil most requirements adequately at a competitive price. It is important for local authorities to consider whether they are over- specifying and demanding a quality of paper that
Column 228is too good for the purpose. An expert working group set up under the aegis of the recycling forum chaired by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry and Consumer Affairs is specifically considering such issues.
My Department's environmental programme includes a number of initiatives aimed at increasing awareness of the economic and environmental benefits of recycling, and at achieving increases in the levels of United Kingdom domestic and industrial waste now being recycled. The recycling advisory group which I formed last year is currently considering the best means of securing such increases for a range of products and materials, including metal containers, and Warren Spring laboratory has been co-operating with industry on research into techniques to reclaim more metals from the waste stream. My Department has also helped to organise the recycling of metalliferous materials international conference to be held in Birmingham in April.
The Environmental Protection Bill also contains proposals which are intended to increase recycling levels, and it is the Government's intention to publish a White Paper on the environment later this year ; this may also have implications for recycling.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with the packaging industry about the need for minimum packaging policies to reduce waste ; and if he will make a statement.
My Department's environmental programme has given priority to waste minimisation issues and the "Cutting Your Losses" brochure published last year emphasised the importance of reducing waste in all industrial sectors, including the packaging industry. We are now organising a design for the environment conference at the national exhibition centre on 28 March ; this will consider environmental design problems and in particular will examine how products can be redesigned to minimise waste during the manufacturing and packaging process. The conference will act as a springboard for other design-related initiatives to promote awareness in this area. My Department is also of course in frequent touch with the packaging industry on the full range of environmental issues.
Column 229Forestry Commission in the years stated, rounded to the nearest 1, 000 hectares. It does not include the restocking of woodland after felling.
Year ended |Total new 31 March |planting |(hectares) --------------------------------- 1980 |24,000 1981 |20,000 1982 |23,000 1983 |21,000 1984 |25,000 1985 |21,000 1986 |23,000 1987 |24,000 1988 |29,000 1989 |29,000
Mr. John Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science by what means his Department is monitoring Government policy on the integration of children with special educational needs ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Alan Howarth : The principal means used by the Department are the statistical returns from local education authorities and schools, HMI reports, surveys and research projects. Evaluation studies of the Education Reform Act will also take account of the position of pupils with special educational needs, where appropriate.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, in the light of the findings of Her Majesty's inspector's report on education, he has proposals designed to improve the quality of education available to students with learning disabilities ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Alan Howarth : The Government announced on 18 December their programme for the local education authority training grants scheme for 1990 -91, under which £9.7 million will be devoted to six national priority areas in the field of special needs and issued for consultation on 9 January a draft circular on staffing for pupils with special educational needs, which sets out a number of considerations which local education authorities should take into account in reviewing local provision for these pupils in their areas. These measures will contribute to the achievement of the Government's education reforms which are intended to secure the best possible return from the resources which are invested in the education service and to raise the standards of achievement of all pupils, including those with special educational needs.
Mr. Peter Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many representations he has received from schools complaining about the dates of the GCSE examinations in 1989 and 1990.
Mr. Peter Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list the first and last dates of GCSE examinations in 1989 and in 1990 together with similar information for GCE O-levels in 1987.
In 1987 the GCE O-level examinations of most of the boards ran from the beginning to the end of June.
Since GCSE replaced GCE O-level and CSE, any comparison must also take into account the dates of the CSE examinations : in 1987, these generally ran from the end of April or the beginning of May to mid-June.
Mr. Peter Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what arrangements exist for his Department to make representations to the GCSE examination boards about the dates of examinations.