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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 6 March 1990


Wages Councils

Mr. Evennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he has reached a decision on the future of the wages councils ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Howard : I have decided not to proceed with the abolition of the councils for the present. However, the consultation exercise showed that our concern about their adverse effects is widely shared by employers, who have confirmed the Government's view that the system should have no permanent place in the labour market. I therefore intend to keep its operation under close review.

Labour Statistics

Mr. McLeish : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give (a) the total number of unemployed and (b) the total number of long-term unemployed for each of the months between July 1986 and December 1989 inclusive for each of the standard regions, Scotland, Wales and Great Britain.

Mr. Nicholls [holding answer 12 February 1990] : As the information requested is detailed and lengthy, I will write to the hon. Member.

Business Incentives (Women)

Ms. Quin : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what incentives his Department promotes for women wishing to start up their own business.

Mr. Eggar [holding answer 5 March 1990] : The Government's policy is to create a beneficial climate for small businesses generally, mainly by encouraging conditions of fair competition and minimising regulation, and by providing a complementary range of fiscal, financial and advisory measures.

My own Department's services include the development of a wide range of business training, the loan guarantee scheme, the enterprise allowance scheme in which over one third of participants are now women, and the small firms service. All these opportunities are open equally to men and women. My Department is keen to encourage women to set up in business, and part- funded a study into the barriers faced by female entrepreneurs conducted by the Scottish Enterprise Foundation, published in November 1988. Following that, the Training Agency has invited organisations to compete for a contract to develop enterprise training for women within employment training. Women are increasingly taking advantage of enterprise opportunities. Between 1979 and 1988 the number of self-employed women in the United Kingdom more than doubled, compared with an increase of just under 50 per cent. for self-employed men.

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Coastal Protection

Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps are being taken by his Department to develop national policies for coastal protection and sea defence work in respect of the threat to ports from erosion of the coastline and the rise in sea levels.

Mr. McLoughlin : The main policy interest relating to coast protection and sea defence work rests, in England, with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and elsewhere with the territorial Departments. In specific cases where problems arise with respect to ports it is normally for the harbour authorities to assess the need for work and to take such action as may be necessary.

Network SouthEast

Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what are the current financial targets and limits set by him which apply to Network SouthEast and the assumptions as to the increase in passenger fares made in connection with their plans for future revenue and capital expenditure.

Mr. Portillo : For 1989-90 the British Railways Board's external financing limit is now £635 million. The PSO cash limit is, at present, £496 million. The EFL applies to BR as a whole and the PSO limit to supported sectors. They are not broken down by sector. In the medium term, the board has set Network SouthEast the objective of reducing its grant requirement to zero in 1992-93. This was endorsed by my right hon. Friend in his letter to Sir Robert Reid of 20 December, which set out BR's objectives for the next three years. Over the same period, planned investment will amount to £1.2 billion--an increase of 30 per cent. in real terms over the previous three-year period. According to BR's own plans, on which the medium-term objectives are based, fares on NSE are likely to rise by less than 10 per cent. in real terms over the next three years.

Air-conditioned Rolling Stock

Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of existing rolling stock on British Rail and the London Underground have air conditioning ; and what percentage of the new rolling stock will have it.

Mr. Portillo : The figures for BR are given in the table below.

                   Percentage of fleet   <1>Percentage of     

                   with air conditioning planned future       

                              rolling stock with              

                              air conditioning                

                  |1989-90   |<1>1993-94                      


InterCity         |85        |<2>100    |100                  

Network SouthEast |2         |15        |50                   

Provincial        |2         |24        |75                   

<1>Taken from British Rail's 1989 corporate plan. For Network 

SouthEast the figure includes all rolling stock that will     

have been ordered by March 1995.                              

<2>Percentage of carriages in regular, all year round         

service. A very small number of vehicles used for charter     

will not be air conditioned.                                  

London Underground has no air conditioned rolling stock, and none of the planned new rolling stock will have air conditioning.

Severn Bridge

Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to ensure that the proper equipment is available and arrangements made to ensure that when a vehicle overturns on the Severn bridge quick remedial action can be taken.

Mr. Atkins : The equipment necessary for the recovery and removal of overturned vehicles on the Severn crossing is already available. High winds are almost invariably the cause of vehicles overturning on the crossing and these winds also impede and delay vehicle recovery.

Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the reason for the closure of the Severn bridge on 26 February ; and for how long traffic was disrupted.

Mr. Atkins : A high-sided heavy goods vehicle overturned in high winds on the westbound carriageway of the Severn crossing at approximately 3.30 am on 26 February. The vehicle came to rest across the central reservation, spilling diesel fuel on both carriageways. As a result, both carriageways were closed to traffic. The vehicle and spillage was cleared by early afternoon, but with winds gusting to 70 knots, it was not considered safe to reopen the crossing until 4.50 pm. High-sided vehicles were banned until 3.30 am the following day.

Newbury Bypass

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what decision he has reached about the route for the Newbury bypass.

Mr. Atkins : The Secretaries of State for Transport and for the Environment are still considering the inspector's report on the A34 Newbury bypass public inquiry. We would hope to be able to announce their joint decision during the spring.

Roads, Liverpool

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what new road building funded by his Department is planned for the city of Liverpool for the next decade.

Mr. Atkins : There are none of our trunk roads within Liverpool. We support local authority spending on some of their more important roads through transport supplementary grant (TSG), currently paid at 50 per cent. of accepted expenditure. In Liverpool we are at present supporting phases of the Park road relief road and the Great Howard street improvement. It is for the city council to settle its forward programme and the schemes to be included in future annual bids for TSG.

Roads (Congestion)

Mr. John Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the measures he has taken to reduce congestion on the roads.

Mr. Atkins : Last year we announced in the White Paper "Roads for Prosperity" a doubling of the trunk road

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programme. Our proposals to add some 2,700 miles of new or improved road to the trunk road network will make a significant impact on congestion on major inter-urban routes. Plans for over 150 bypasses will remove through traffic from towns and villages. In city centres better traffic management measures, parking controls and improvements to public transport, including the development of new facilities such as light rail systems will contribute towards reducing congestion. Full details of the trunk road programme are contained in the roads report "Trunk Roads, England--Into the 1990s", published on 20 February. Copies have been placed in the Library.

Traffic Information

Mr. Jack : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action he is taking to improve access to motorists of up-to-date traffic information by means of radio.

Mr. Atkins : We have held discussions with the BBC, AA and others involved in the provision of travel information about ways of improving the availability and reliability of information through better arrangements for its collection, co-ordination and dissemination. The Department is contributing to a trial by the BBC of radio data systems, a newly developed system to allow improved dissemination of travel information by radio.

A1 (Fatal Accidents)

Mr. Holt : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many fatal accidents have occurred between Doncaster and Scotland on the A1 in each of the past five years.

Mr. Atkins : Figures available are for the A1 and A1(M) between the Scottish border and the border of Doncaster metropolitan district, which is approximately five miles south of Doncaster. In 1984, there were 22 fatal accidents. The figures for successive years are 19 fatal accidents in 1985, 38 in 1986, 25 in 1987 and 23 in 1988. The table shows fatal accidents for A1 and A1(M) separately and the resulting fatal casualties.

Fatal accidents and casualties on the A1 and A1(M)               

between Doncaster and Scotland, 1984 to 1988                     

                 |1984   |1985   |1986   |1987   |1988           


Fatal accidents                                                  

A1               |21     |14     |31     |20     |22             

A1(M)            |1      |5      |7      |5      |1              


Total            |22     |19     |38     |25     |23             


Fatal casualties                                                 

A1               |24     |16     |45     |22     |28             

A1(M)            |2      |5      |7      |5      |3              


Total            |26     |21     |52     |27     |31             

Environmental Pressure Groups

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the outcome of his meeting with environmental pressure groups on 23 February.

Mr. Atkins : My right hon. Friend met representatives of Transport 2000, Friends of the Earth, the Council for

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the Protection of Rural England, the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Royal Society for Nature Conservation on 23 February. He exchanged views with these organisations on a wide range of transport and environmental issues, and hopes to have further meetings with them.

Vehicle Emissions

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what policies he has to develop measures to improve driver efficiency as part of Her Majesty's Government's policy to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

Mr. Atkins : Pollution emitted by road vehicles is related to fuel consumption. My Department regularly issues a booklet about the fuel consumption of new cars which also advises motorists on how to save fuel when driving. We are considering what further measures are necessary to encourage driver efficiency.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what studies are being undertaken into the development of advanced catalytic converter technology for turbo-diesel engines by the transport road research laboratory.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 1 March 1990] : None at present. Industry has its own longstanding development programmes in this field. These will be furthered by the £2.3 million joint venture programme between Government and a consortium of United Kingdom companies, directed towards cleaning up vehicle exhaust emissions, announced by my hon. Friend the Minister for Industry and Enterprise on 15 February.

Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for testing the effectiveness of motor vehicle emission control devices once fitted and in use.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 1 March 1990] : Our proposed amendments to the Construction and Use Regulations include a requirement for the user of a vehicle to keep the engine in tune and any emission control equipment in working order. This can be checked by most garages. We are also considering whether changes are needed in the existing annual testing schemes and roadside spot checks of exhaust condition.

Ship Registers

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will introduce incentives to United Kingdom shipping companies to stop them registering their shipping in other countries.

Mr. McLoughlin : No.

Radioactive Materials (Ports)

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will list by year for the last 10 years (a) the sources and (b) the destinations, of radioactive material (i) imported and (ii) exported, through the ports of Immingham and Hull ;

(2) if he will list by year for the last 10 years how many tonnes of radioactive material were (a) imported and (b) exported through the ports of (i) Barrow, (ii) Dover, (iii)

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Felixstowe, (iv) Harwich, (v) Liverpool, (vi) Portsmouth, (vii) Southampton and (viii) Workington ; and in each case what method of transport was used to convey the material to or from the port.

Mr. McLoughlin : I refer the hon. Member to my reply of 22 January, Official Report, column 491.


Mr. Roger King : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance he will issue to local authority trading standards departments in relation to current offences alleged to have been committed under sections 10 and 12 of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 with respect to the alleged breach of regulation 4 of the Motor Vehicles Tyres (Safety) Regulations 1984 in the light of the acceptance and imminent introduction of BS AU144C 1988 retread car and commercial vehicle tyre specifications.

Mr. Atkins : We shall consult on proposed amendments to the regulations, which will include the introduction of the BS AU 1440 requirements, later this year. As usual, the trading standards authorities, who are responsible for enforcement, will be included in the consultation.

Mr. Roger King : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to replace the British Standards AU144B 1977 specification for retreaded car and commercial vehicle tyres with British Standard AU144C 1988 requirement ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 2 March 1990] : I shall be consulting on amendments to the Motor Vehicles (Tyre Safety) Regulations 1984 later this year. The amendments will include the change proposed by my hon. Friend.


Mr. Andrew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what documentation and tests are to be required after 1992 for a person to be qualified to drive a minibus in the United Kingdom and other European Community countries ; and what are the present arrangements.

Mr. Atkins : Minibuses with up to 17 seats that are not used for hire or reward may be driven in the United Kingdom by holders of full ordinary licences who are over 21 years of age. Younger drivers are also allowed to drive minibuses in closely defined circumstances. In order to drive these vehicles in other European Community member states, drivers must obtain a certificate of driving experience from the local traffic area office.

Proposals for a second directive on the driving licence, as published by the European Commission, would require new drivers of minibuses to take a second test and meet tougher health standards. The United Kingdom has been pressing for the retention of the present arrangements. Useful progress has been made in direct discussions with Commission officials. Details of the modifications agreed with the Commission were announced in the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) on 21 July 1989, Official Report, column 336. There is still a good deal of negotiation ahead before the proposals are finalised. Any changes arising from the directive are unlikely to be in place by 1992.

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M3 Extension

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what impact the recently approved extension of the M3 through Twyford Down near Winchester, Hampshire, will have on the natural landscape ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : The impact on the landscape of the Department of Transport's proposals for this section of the M3 motorway is set out at length in the letter conveying the decisions of my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Transport and for the Environment on the reports of the two independent inspectors who conducted the public inquiries. I am sending the hon. and learned Gentleman a copy of the letter and arranging for copies to be placed in the Library of the House.

Beach Pollution (Sussex)

Mr. Higgins : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer to the right hon. Member for Worthing of 28 February, Official Report, column 237, regarding the MV Fathulkhair, (1) whether he was informed by the French authorities of the loss of the vessel's dangerous cargo and potential risk on British beaches ; when he first knew of the problem ; whether the other dangerous chemicals found were on the MV Fathulkhair's manifest ; and what information he has on whether the initial stowage and subsequent securing in Cherbourg were in conformity with Merchant Shipping Regulations ; (2) where the MV Fathulkhair is registered ; when the master of the vessel notified the authorities in Cherbourg of the loss of dangerous cargo ; when the French authorities notified his Department of the danger ; and if he is satisfied that the communications arrangements are adequate to warn of such dangers.

Mr. McLoughlin : As explained in my answer of 28 February, Official Report, column 237, the MV Fathulkhair is registered in Qatar. I understand that the loss of dangerous goods was not reported by the master to the French authorities although the vessel at one time put back into Cherbourg to re-secure and survey cargo. Had the loss been so reported I am satisfied that the French authorities would have notified my Department's marine pollution control unit (MPCU) of the potential risk to British beaches under a longstanding bilateral agreement for co-operation in dealing with pollution in the Channel--Mancheplan.

These arrangements have worked well in other recent incidents in the Channel involving the loss of dangerous goods, such as the Perintis and the Murree. Within the framework of Mancheplan there are also twice-yearly meetings between the MPCU and its counterparts in Cherbourg and annual counter-pollution exercises are held to ensure that communications are both speedy and effective.

On this occasion, the first my Department knew of the danger on British beaches was when a canister of potassium cyanide was reported on the morning of 21 February to Sussex police who immediately informed Her Majesty's Coastguard. The MPCU was subsequently able to determine that this had been shipped on the MV Fathulkhair and was then advised by the shipping agent of other dangerous cargo which had been lost overboard

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from the vessel. This information was passed by the MPCU to the French authorities and to all United Kingdom coastal local authorities which might be affected. Other dangerous chemicals found on beaches on 21 February and on succeeding days are consistent with those reported by the shipping agent as being lost from MV Fathulkhair. Marine surveyors of my Department are investigating to see whether cargo loaded on board the MV Fathulkhair at Sheerness was stowed in conformity with merchant shipping regulations. Any subsequent re-securing of the cargo in Cherbourg is of course a matter for the competent French authorities.

Lowland Airports

Mr. Allan Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has concluded his review of Scottish lowland airports policy ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Parkinson : I have now concluded my consideration of the views put in the over 1,100 submissions received during the recent consultation. I was much impressed by the scale and quality of the response, and I am glad to have been able to consider the issues against the background of this very full expression of Scottish opinion.

I believe it is right in principle for Government to intervene in the operation of the aviation market only to the extent and when circumstances make it necessary. My intention in ordering the consultation was to determine whether to maintain a special policy for the lowland airports, or to adopt the less restrictive approach which applies more generally in the United Kingdom. I have concluded, in close consultation with my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, that the interests of Scotland generally and of the users and providers of air services in Scotland are best served by allowing each of the lowland airports to handle the traffic they are able to attract, subject of course to the licences held by airlines, to international air service agreements and to the physical capabilities of the airports. I shall not, therefore, be making fresh traffic distribution rules for the lowland airports. I did not find that there was a persuasive argument for construction of another airport in Scotland.

The benefits to Scotland that can be expected to flow from this, and the rate at which those benefits will be become manifest, are necessarily difficult to state with precision. Much depends on the response of the industry and of users to the additional opportunities that a more liberal policy will open up : already two airlines have announced proposals for new services between Glasgow and the United States of America. It is the firm belief of almost all those well placed to take an informed view that the policy of confining long-haul services to Prestwick has hampered Scotland's economic development and that a less restrictive approach could be expected to enhance business efficiency and help encourage inward investment. I am myself clear that airlines' ability to respond flexibly to the needs of users is very important.

I recognise and regret that the change in policy is likely to have an adverse impact on local Ayrshire employment. However my right hon. and learned Friend and I are confident that this will be more than offset by wider benefits to Scotland as a whole, and in the meantime I welcome BAA's firm policy of making no forced redundancies at Prestwick.

I am conscious of the concern on safety grounds at the prospect of additional traffic at Glasgow and Edinburgh.

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I should stress that there is no question of any unsafe operations being permitted at either airport. A statutory responsibility for the safety of civil aviation rests with the Civil Aviation Authority. Objectivity in assessing safety standards is one of the key elements which take the regulation of aviation safety out of the commercial market place as far as is humanly possible. Thus, while the length of Glasgow's runway might impose a commercial penalty--which would be a matter for the airlines--there is no question of safety standards being compromised. Much higher levels of air traffic than are envisaged at Glasgow are already present at, for example, Heathrow and Manchester, airports also located in urban areas.

There is concern, too, about additional noise and vibration at Glasgow and Edinburgh that an increase in traffic may bring. Responsibility for noise control measures at these airports rests with BAA as airport operator, and I am satisfied that this arrangement should continue, as indeed it does at all United Kingdom airports outside the London system. A number of noise abatement measures are already in place at Glasgow and Edinburgh, and I am asking the chairman of the BAA to ensure that these are kept under review.

It is suggested that the withdrawal of Prestwick's sole gateway status would lead to the airport's closure. BAA has said that it will move to a common tariff at Glasgow and Prestwick for long-haul traffic, allowing Prestwick to compete fairly. Although it believes that passenger services will nevertheless in due course transfer from Prestwick, the BAA has made clear its firm intention of keeping the airport open and of intensifying its marketing of its other facilities, notably for all-cargo operations. I welcome those intentions, because I know there is concern among some Scottish business interests for the future of air freight facilities in Scotland. I very much hope that BAA will be successful in realising Prestwick's advantages for all-cargo services. It starts from a strong position, such services having accounted for 38 per cent. of all air transport movements at Prestwick in 1988, and for 80 per cent. of cargo moved through the airport in 1988-89. With the continuation of cargo operations at Prestwick and the bellyhold capacity offered by any additional long-haul services at Glasgow and Edinburgh, I believe Scotland will continue to enjoy good air freight coverage.

Lowland Scotland is fortunate in having three fine airports. By extending freedom of choice, allowing the market to respond freely to the wishes of users, I am confident that each of the airports will be encouraged to realise its proper potential, to the benefit of Scotland as a whole.

Oil Tankers

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the United Kingdom's preparedness to deal with an oil spill at sea has been reviewed in the light of recent tanker accidents.

Mr. McLoughlin : Contingency arrangements to deal with pollution at sea in United Kingdom waters are kept under constant review by the Department's marine pollution control unit (MPCU) which was set up in 1979 with specific responsibility to do so and to take charge of operations.

A thorough examination covering United Kingdom counterpollution responsibilities, communications and resources has been carried out. As a result of this the

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capability of the MPCU to deal with major oil spills is being increased by doubling its contracted aerial dispersant spraying capacity by the use of larger aircraft. The unit's ability to detect oil slicks at sea is also being doubled by increasing to two its complement of remote sensing aircraft, which are used to control and direct counterpollution operations. Additionally this enhanced remote sensing capability will be used to increase by more than 60 per cent. regular aerial surveillance patrols of United Kingdom waters to deter and detect ships making illegal operational discharges of oil. Overall spending in 1990-91 will depend on the number of incidents in the year but is expected to be of the order of £4 million.

Trunk Roads and Motorways

Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the role of local authority agents in relation to the sections of the Department of Transport chapter of the Public Expenditure White Paper for 1990-91 to 1992-93 dealing with trunk roads and motorways, Cm.1007.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 2 March 1990] : Under current agency arrangements it will fall in general to local highway authorities to manage maintenance of trunk roads on behalf of the Department. Authorities will also be responsible in general for designing and supervising the less expensive new construction schemes, normally those costing less than £1 million.

It is the Department's policy to use private firms of consultants, selected by competition, for design and supervision of major schemes. We are however prepared to employ an agent authority on such a scheme where this is justified for reasons such as invested knowledge, linkages with local road schemes, or traffic management considerations.

Traffic Calming

Mr. Rathbone : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he intends to publish the proposed new regulations on road humps and other traffic calming measures ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 2 March 1990] : My aim is for these regulations to come into force before Easter.


Local Government Finance

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list those authorities which have set a poll tax (a) below and (b) above the Government's assessed level.

Mr. Chope : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe) on 21 February, Official Report, column 741.

Sir John Stanley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list in descending order of magnitude for each non-metropolitan county in England the percentage amount by which its 1990-91 standard spending assessment represented an increase or decrease from the comparable adjusted figure for the 1989-90 grant-related expenditure assessment.

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Mr. David Hunt [holding answer 5 March 1990] : I will write to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether, further to his replies of 27 February, Official Report, column 178, to the hon. Member for Great Grimsby, concerning the average amount of Government contribution to local expenditure, he will now publish the information in the Official Report.

Mr. Chope : I refer the hon. Member to my reply to him of 23 February at column 929.

Nature Conservancy Council

Mr. Brazier : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Wyre (Mr. Mans) of 23 November 1989, Official Report, columns 16-17, whether he intends the proposed country agencies of the Nature Conservancy Council to have responsibility for making nature reserve agreements under section 16 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.

Mr. Trippier : Yes. Amendments to the 1949 Act contained in paragraph 1(2) and (3) of schedule 6 to the Environmental Protection Bill which is currently before Parliament are intended to achieve this.

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Linlithgow of 1 February, Official Report, column 245, what is the maximum number of new members appointed to the Nature Conservancy Council or its predecessor bodies with effect from the same date ; and on what date and on how many occasions there have been more than 18 members on the council.

Mr. Trippier [holding answer 5 March 1990] : The maximum number of new members appointed to the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC) with effect from the same date is 11 from 1 November 1973. From 1 April 1989 until 28 September 1989, there were 19 members on the council. On no other occasion have there been more than 18 members. Information on the NCC's predecessor bodies is not readily available.

Crown Suppliers

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many D and F grades were employed at TCS on 16 February ; and how many had applied for early retirement or severance at that date.

Mr. Chope : On 16 February 1990, a total of 318 permanent of D and F grades were employed in TCS. At that date, 152 had applied for early retirement or severance.

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how often he met members of the privatisation unit of the Crown Suppliers in 1989.

Mr. Chope : My right hon. Friend meets his officials as necessary.

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how often the Parliamentary Under-Secretary met members of the management buy-out team for the product supply services division and the buying agency of TCS in 1989.

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Mr. Chope : I had one formal meeting with the management buy-out team for PSSD and the buying agency, to discuss its proposals.

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he encourages managers from the buying agency of TCS to bid for their business separately ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chope : The Government welcome staff interest in bidding for the business of the Crown Suppliers. Managers of the buying agency of the Crown Suppliers are among those buy-out teams and outside organisations which have been invited to bid for the contract furnishing business, which consists of the product supply and services and the buying agency divisions of the Crown Suppliers.

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether in 1989 TCS received any advice about EEC directives on procurement.

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