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Birmingham Six

Mr. Alexander : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he has taken in the light of recent representations submitted to him about the safety of the convictions of the Birmingham Six.

Mr. Waddington [pursuant to his reply, 21 March 1990, c. 633] : I have always made it clear that I will consider very carefully any evidence which might cast doubt on the safety of the convictions. I have seen the television programme "Who Bombed Birmingham?" and have received from Granada Television a copy of documents in its possession, one of which concerns the Birmingham public house bombings in 1974.

The programme did not put forward new evidence. The allegations about the ill-treatment of the convicted men while in police custody and about the forensic science evidence were fully considered by the Court of Appeal in 1987.

The document which was referred to in the television programme and a copy of which has now been sent to me

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is a police report about terrorist activities in the west midlands which was written in 1975. I understand from the Chief Constable of the West Midlands police that the people named in the programme were included in the police investigations into the Birmingham public house bombings and other terrorist activities at the time. One person, Michael Murray, stood trial with the Birmingham Six, and was convicted of conspiracy to cause explosions and causing an explosion, and sentenced to 12 years and 10 years' imprisonment respectively, to run concurrently. However, no sufficient evidence was found to justify prosecuting the people named in the report for the public house bombings. It was not the prosecution case that the Birmingham Six were the only people involved in the bombings, and the report does not contain information which might cast doubt on the safety of their convictions.

In 1986 the Home Office asked the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin), who was not then a Member of this House, to discuss with the West Midlands police the information that he claimed to have at the time of the publication of his book, "Error of Judgement". At an interview with the assistant chief constable he refused to identify the people he claimed had been responsible. The police examined his book and tested the allegations made on the basis of the limited information that he provided. The police reported their conclusions to the Home Office in October 1986. Their report satisfied the then Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Witney (Mr. Hurd), that the claims which had been made had been fully considered but did not constitute new evidence. He did, of course, refer the case to the Court of Appeal in 1987 on the basis of new evidence relating to the scientific evidence and alleging police ill-treatment. It would have been open to the appellants to raise in court the allegations made by the hon. Member for Sunderland, South. They chose not to do so and he did not give evidence to the court. Further representations were made to me in December last year by the solicitor representing the Birmingham Six. On 23 January 1990 the West Midlands police provided me with a copy of the report which it is now clear is the same as the one which had come into the hands of Granada Television. (The people mentioned in this report were the subject of the report to the then Home Secretary in 1986). The information that it contained was carefully examined and I concluded that it did not constitute new evidence which might cast doubt on the safety of the convictions of the Birmingham Six. I have, however, passed to the chief constable of the West Midlands police a copy of the solicitor's representations. The Devon and Cornwall police will inquire into the existence of any

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relevant information as part of the investigation they have been asked to undertake by the chief constable of the West Midlands police.

Criminal Justice

Mr. Janner : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list all the organisations and individuals that have made submissions to him since the publication and on the subject of "Supervision and Punishment in the Community : A Framework for Action".

Mr. John Patten : None as yet. We have asked for comments by 30 June.


Offshore Installations

Mr. Doran : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what regulations and guidance notes are in force governing the design, operation and construction of offshore installations and associated facilities ; when these requirements were introduced ; on what dates they have been revised, in respect of which platforms ; and what dates and for what period exemptions to the regulations and requirements have been granted, and in what terms.

Mr. Peter Morrison : A detailed answer to the hon. Gentleman's question can be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, I am arranging for copies of my Department's evidence to the Piper Alpha public inquiry on the offshore safety regime to be placed in the Library of the House. This details legislation and guidance relevant to offshore safety. The following regulations have been made since the production of this evidence :

SI 1989 No. 840. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (Application Outside Great Britain) Order 1989.

SI 1989 No. 971. The Offshore Installations (Safety Representatives and Safety Committees) Regulations 1989.

SI 1989 No. 978. The Offshore Installations (Included Apparatus or Works) Order 1989.

SI 1989 No. 1029. The Offshore Installations (Emergency Pipeline Valve) Regulations 1989.

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SI 1989 No. 1671. The Offshore Installations and Pipeline Works (First Aid) Regulations 1989.

SI 1989 No. 1672. The Offshore Installations (Operational Safety, Health and Welfare and Life Saving Appliances) (Revocations) Regulations 1989.

Electricity Licences

Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he intends to issue a general authority under section 6(1) of the Electricity Act 1989 to enable the Director General of Electricity Supply to grant licences authorising the generation, transmission or supply of electricity.

Mr. Wakeham : My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have now issued the general authority to the director. Copies have today been placed in the Libraries of each House.


Mr. Andy Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the time limits for claims arising from coal mining subsidence damage.

Mr. Baldry : My Department has been discussing with British Coal the need for improved guidance for those householders affected by damage arising from coal mining subsidence. We intend to publish in the near future a new leaflet setting out claimants' rights. This will incorporate a unified approach to handling subsidence claims that has been voluntarily adopted by British Coal and which, in the Government's view, will give claimants the more advantageous elements of the two existing statutes governing such claims in anticipation of the enactment of new legislation. As regards time limits for making claims, British Coal has agreed to accept claims within six years of the damage occurring or within six years from which it would have been reasonable for a claimant to have known that damage had occurred.

Mr. Wray : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what are the total public funds allocated for research and development on (a) nuclear energy, (b) solar energy, (c) wind energy, (d) tidal wave energy, (e) hydro -electric energy and (f) other alternative sources of energy, for each year since 1976.

Mr. Peter Morrison : The figures requested are as follows (all figures in £ million) :

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           |Nuclear<1>|Solar     |Wind      |Tidal     |Hydro<2>  |Other                

           |energy    |energy    |energy    |energy    |energy    |renewables           


1976-77    |110.0     |<3>-      |<3>-      |<3>-      |<3>-      |<3>-                 

1977-78    |100.1     |<4>-      |<4>-      |<4>-      |<4>-      |<4>-                 

1978-79    |127.4     |0.2       |0.3       |0.0       |-         |3.1                  

1979-80    |145.5     |1.5       |1.1       |0.6       |-         |6.2                  

1980-81    |186.2     |1.2       |1.4       |1.4       |-         |9.1                  

1981-82    |205.4     |1.5       |2.1       |0.4       |-         |17.4                 

1982-83    |214.8     |1.7       |4.6       |0.0       |-         |12.2                 

1983-84    |203.8     |1.6       |4.5       |0.0       |-         |9.0                  

1984-85    |196.1     |0.8       |6.6       |0.3       |-         |9.6                  

1985-86    |189.6     |1.0       |7.5       |0.1       |-         |7.3                  

1986-87    |174.5     |1.0       |6.0       |0.1       |-         |7.4                  

1987-88    |140.8     |1.2       |7.3       |1.4       |0.8       |9.2                  

1988-89    |159.1     |1.5       |8.5       |1.2       |0.8       |9.4                  

1989-90    |136.8     |1.9       |5.0       |1.0       |0.2       |9.4                  

<1> Nuclear expenditure figures are D/Energy expenditure only: figures before 1986-87   

include some non-R and D expenditure.                                                   

<2> Hydro expenditure not separately identified until 1987-88.                          

<3> All renewables 0.3.                                                                 

<4> All renewables 1.3.                                                                 


1. Figures for 1989-90 are forecasts.                                                   

2. The table incorporates expenditure on renewable energy by Government Departments,    

SERC, NERC, and CEGB.                                                                   

3. Renewables expenditure for 1976-77 and 1977-78 includes energy conservation          


Electricity Prices

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) if he will consult pensioners' organisations, local authorities, the electricity consultative councils and the proposed new electricity consumer committees before allowing the price increases proposed for the below 1 MW tariff market in England and Wales for the year commencing 1 April to proceed ;

(2) if he will permit the Director General of Electricity Supply and the electricity consumer committee to review retrospectively the price increases applying to the tariff market in England and Wales from 1 April and announced during March ; and if he will make a statement ;

(3) if he will permit the Director General of Electricity Supply to review the pricing arrangement for above 1 MW and less than 1 MW, pursuant to the Electricity Act 1989 and vesting day on 31 March ; (4) if he will require the Director General of Electricity Supply on 1 April to review the proposed price increases for the below 1 MW captive tariff market, as though the price increases had been announced on 1 April or thereafter.

Mr. Baldry : Prices are a matter for the individual boards concerned, subject to their statutory and other obligations. All the boards have consulted their respective consultative councils about their proposals. I have no reason to believe that the boards have acted unlawfully in fixing their tariffs.

Nuclear Power Stations

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will close the nuclear power stations at Heysham and Hartlepool ; and if he will make a statement.

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Mr. Baldry : No. Both the design and the operation of these stations conform to the highest standards of safety. From their inception, the two stations have been subject to inspection and to the licence conditions required by the independent nuclear installations inspectorate (NII) of the Health and Safety Executive. Siting of the installations was one of the factors extensively considered before the NII granted a licence for the construction of the plants.

The NII has full powers to order the shutdown of any nuclear installation which it judges to constitute a threat to safety.

Energy Technology

Mr. Wray : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan of 26 March, he will list the team members of the major research and development programme aimed at developing commercially viable and environmentally acceptable energy technologies and their qualifications.

Mr. Peter Morrison : In addition to seven full-time technically qualified officials in my Department, currently 41 full-time and six part- time scientific and engineering staff at the energy technology support unit at Harwell are engaged on the research and development programme supported by Government into sources of renewable energy. However, this does not include those involved in the bulk of the research work in the United Kingdom, which is carried out by the industrial and academic sector. The number of qualified staff working in these sectors is not available.


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