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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 11 July 1990


Leasehold Reform

Mr. Gerald Bowden : To ask the Attorney-General what plans he has to introduce leasehold reform legislation to give tenants rights of commonhold.

The Attorney-General : I refer my hon. Friend to my reply to the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) on 18 June 1990 at column 389.


Mundic Aggregates

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will obtain for his departmental library a copy of the 28 June edition of the "Construction Journal" article concerning Mundic aggregates ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chope : I understand that the hon. Member is referring to the journal "New Builder", which my Department receives regularly. The article suggests that unsatisfactory aggregates for concrete made from mine waste, are still in use in the west country. The effect of "Mundic" in aggregates impairs durability of concrete used in construction. As such the matter is of concern to the Government as well as to householders and others affected by the problem. The Government have overall responsibility for the health and safety aspects of new construction under building regulations as well as those interests arising out of their purchasing role.

The mechanism of "Mundic" in aggregates is little understood and, as the article makes clear, there is confusion within the construction industry. The first priority is to obtain a better understanding of the factors that indicate a risk of the effect and work on this is being carried out by the Building Research Establishment within the Department's research programme on aggregates. We shall then examine the extent to which the existing British standard (BS 882(1983) : Aggregates from natural sources for concrete) may need amendment to be able to function as an effective check on unsuitable aggregates.

The results of this research are being made available to the responsible BSI technical committee. However, a European standard for aggregates that, in due course, will take the place of the British standard is currently under development within CEN--the European Standards Organisation. United Kingdom interests within CEN are represented by BSI. The Department will support action by BSI to ensure that the European standards and the accompanying methods of testing provide the United Kingdom construction industry with an effective means of ensuring that the Mundic problem does not recur.

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Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has made an assessment of the threat to the otter population posed by the practice of mink hunting ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier : The Government have made no assessment of the threat to otter populations posed by mink hunting. However, the Nature Conservancy Council advises me that voluntary guidelines are already in place to discourage mink hunting in areas where otters may be found.

Air Conditioning

Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any plans to improve the efficiency of the air conditioning in the Palace of Westminster.

Mr. Chope : Only a limited area of the Palace has air conditioning or mechanical ventilation. Although there is no immediate need to carry out any major work, the replacement and upgrading of some plant and controls is included in the forward maintenance programme.


Mr. Hardy : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment by what proportion the level of housebuilding completions in 1989 differs from the figure for 10 years earlier.

Mr. Michael Spicer : Figures for housebuilding completions in England for 1989 appear in table 2 of my Department's press release issued on 5 July 1990, and for 1979, in table 6.1(a) of "Housing and Construction Statistics 1978-1988". Copies are in the Library.

AEA Technology

Mr. Maclennan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps to assess the potential of AEA Technology, Dounreay to be included in the European Environment Agency's proposed monitoring network ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier : The regulation establishing the European Environment Agency has not yet come into force, but some preparatory work has been set in hand in my Department on the compilation of a list of United Kingdom institutions which could contribute to the work of the agency. AEA Technology, Dounreay has provided details of its capabilities which have been noted in this respect.

Arts (Planning Policy)

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he intends to issue planning policy guidance on the arts for consultation with local authorities.

Mr. Michael Spicer : My right hon. Friend has not yet decided whether or when to issue for public consultation draft guidance on planning policy in relation to the arts, but we have recently received from the Arts Council its proposals for such guidance. We will consider the council's draft carefully in the context of reviewing planning policy guidance note 1 (PPG1--general policy and principles).

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Archaeological Areas

Mr. Michael Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has now completed his consideration of English Heritage's advice on the effectiveness of part II of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 concerning archaeological areas ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier : I have considered English Heritage's advice on the operation and effectiveness of areas of archaeological importance (AAIs) in the light of the likely impact of the Department's planning policy guidance note (PPG) on archaeology and planning. We are currently considering the 200 or so responses to the draft guidance note and expect to publish final guidance within the next few months. English Heritage has advised me that no further areas of archaeological importance should be designated at present but that it would be premature to take decisions on the future use of the existing statutory provisions until the impact of the Department's forthcoming planning policy guidance note on archaeology and planning has been assessed.

The provisions of part II of the 1979 Act are broadly intended to help prevent important archaeological sites being damaged or destroyed without there first being an opportunity for archaeological investigation and recording. By contrast the draft planning policy guidance note places archaeology more firmly in the planning process with its message to developers and local planning authorities to consider the possible existence of archaeological remains on site before submitting planning applications and the desirability of preserving them. This guidance will apply across the country whereas areas of archaeological importance must be limited to specified areas.

In the circumstances I have concluded, in agreement with English Heritage advice, that it would be sensible to allow time for the impact of the planning policy guidance note to be assessed before considering further the role of areas of archaeological importance. I therefore intend to review the position with regard to areas of archaeological importance 12 months after publication of the planning policy guidance note by which time we can begin to form a judgment on the effectiveness of the forthcoming planning policy guidance note.

Satellite TV Antennas

Mr. Gwilym Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will issue a consultation paper on planning controls over satellite television antennas ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Moynihan : My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State for Wales have today issued a consultation paper on permitted development rights for satellite television antennas. The Government are fully committed both to protecting the environment and to facilitating the growth of telecommunications. There have been major changes since the present planning regime for satellite television dishes was introduced in the mid-1980s. We need to provide better safeguards for the visual environment, respond to the growth in satellite broadcasting, and take advantage of the development of smaller antennas. The consultation paper sets out a range of options. Any

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extension of permitted development rights-- which remove the need to apply for specific planning permission--should in our view be balanced by additional controls over unnecessarily obtrusive installations, particularly in sensitive areas.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Paice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what would have been the total level of local government spending in the current year had local government spending plans not been subject to capping.

Mr. Chope [holding answer 27 June 1990] : The caps which, if the House approves, my right hon. Friend intends to set for the designated authorities will result in the £35.8 billion total of all local authorities' budgets being reduced by £217 million.

Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from those local authorities that have been community charge-capped over the reduction and disruption of services ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chope [holding answer 9 July 1990] : My right hon. Friend received many representations about the effect of charge capping on services, including those from the designated authorities which put forward alternative maxima. My right hon. Friend carefully considered all the information which he considered relevant, before taking his decisions on final caps which are at present before the House in the draft Charge Limitation (England) (Maximum Amount) (No. 2) Order 1990 and the draft Charge Limitation (England) (Maximum Amount) (No. 3) Order 1990.

Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has considered increasing the upper spending limit for local authorities for each adult in their area when assessing their poll tax before applying the charge capping ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chope [holding answer 9 July 1990] : My right hon. Friend considered carefully all the relevant information before him before taking his decisions on designation of authorities for community charge capping for 1990-91 ; he is satisfied that the principles he adopted for designation were appropriate.

JET Project, Culham

Mr. Gould : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if his Department will conduct an inquiry into the recent release of CFC-113 at the Culham JET laboratory.

Mr. Chris Patten : No : I understand that a representative of the Health and Safety Executive has already visited the plant and is satisfied that improvements have now been made to the system which failed. CFC-113 is not itself a toxic substance and this release has not imperilled achievement of our obligations under the Montreal protocol. Nevertheless avoidable releases of ozone-depleting chemicals are regrettable.


Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what account was taken of the funds to be made available under the European Community

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RECHAR initiative when standard spending assessments for local authorities for the current financial year were drawn up.

Mr. Chope [holding answer 10 July 1990] : No account was taken.

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will take steps to ensure that the required contribution from Wakefield district council under the European Community RECHAR scheme does not count against its current approved capital programme ;

(2) what steps have been taken by his Department to ensure that money made available through the European Community RECHAR initiative is additional to local authorities, over and above their approved level of borrowing.

Mr. Chope [holding answer 10 July 1990] : The Government take anticipated European Community receipts into account at the national level when setting the level of public expenditure programmes, so that these programmes are higher than they would otherwise be. Thereafter, capital allocations are made to individual authorities on the basis of overall assessments of their needs to spend. No explicit account is taken of whether expenditure may be financed in part through grant from the European Community. A limited exception has been made in the case of expenditure on the "other services" block. In the current financial year, the Government have held back credit approvals of £25 million to be distributed in respect of ERDF grant claims for expenditure on that block.


Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what tonnage of polychlorinate bi-phenyls was imported into Newport by sea in the past three years.

Mr. Grist [holding answer 6 July 1990] : I have been asked to reply.

The information sought is available only since the introduction of the Transfrontier Shipment of Hazardous Waste Regulations 1988. Records of shipments under the regulations show that 479 tonnes of polychlorinate bi- phenyl contaminated materials were imported via Newport for disposal in the year 1 April 1989 to 31 March 1990.



Sir Eldon Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects work on the A11 Red Lodge bypass to start ; and what arrangements are being made about the timing of a new A45/A11 connector road.

Mr. Atkins : Selected contractors are currently preparing bids for the construction of the A11 Red Lodge bypass. Work is expected to commence in early autumn this year. My Department has no proposals to construct a new link road between the A45 and A11.

Draft proposals have also been published which would provide a second carriageway for the A11 between Red Lodge and the A45. Further progress on this scheme depends on the outcome of statutory procedures.

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Fuel Tankers (Safety)

Mr. John Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment the railway inspectorate has made of the safety of parked railway fuel tankers at Port Talbot station.

Mr. Freeman : The primary responsibility for railway safety rests with the operator. British Rail has already taken a number of steps to reduce leakages from fuel tank wagons at Port Talbot station. There were eight such incidents in 1989 but only one so far in 1990. The railway inspectorate will be reviewing the situation to make sure that all reasonably practicable safety measures are being taken.

Mr. John Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many incidents have occurred with parked railway fuel tankers in south Wales in the last two years ; and on how many occasions passengers have had to be disembarked from main line trains because of concern with safety.

Mr. Freeman : I understand from British Rail that there have been 14 incidents of seepage or leakage from railway fuel tank wagons in south Wales since January 1988. No passengers have been disembarked from trains as a direct result, but it is usual for the fire service to be called and the passage of other trains stopped whilst any leakage is investigated and rectified.

A1 (Upgrading)

Mr. Strang : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of traffic flows on the A1 north of Newcastle following upgrading to motorway standard of the A1 between London and Newcastle.

Mr. Atkins : Estimates of increased traffic flows resulting from a new motorway link from London to Newcastle have not been assessed specifically. However, the study commissioned by the Scottish Development Department, "Routes South of Edinburgh", indicated that the completion of a motorway link between London and Tyneside would not lead to any significant transfer of traffic to the route north of Newcastle.

The joint A1 steering group will of course monitor the traffic flows on the route between Newcastle and Edinburgh.


Mr. Andrew Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will give details of his road construction programme for 1990-91.

Mr. Atkins : Following publication of the report "Trunk Roads, England" in February, the latest information for the current financial year is as follows :

10 contracts have been let (value £101 million).

11 contracts have been advertised in the Official Journal (value £114 million).

18 further contracts are expected to be let, subject to satisfactory completion of statutory processes (estimated value £260 million).

59 schemes are currently under construction (value £1,384 million).

A list of these schemes will be placed in the Library and sent to contractors.

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the new roads which have been built in each

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of the last five years in (a) areas of outstanding natural beauty, (b) sites of special scientific interest and (c) national parks.

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Mr. Atkins [holding answer 4 July 1990] : The information for trunk roads is as follows. Information about local authority roads is not available.

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The Okehampton bypass completed in 1988-89 is the only scheme to pass through national park land in recent years.



Mr. McNamara : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many prisoners were transferred from (a) England and Wales to Northern Ireland and (b) Northern Ireland to England and Wales in 1989 ; and under what section of the Criminal Justice Act 1961 such transfers were carried out ;

(2) how many prisoners in British gaols who give as their domicile Northern Ireland have been returned to Northern Ireland to serve the whole or part of their sentences in 1989 ; and how many of these prisoners were serving sentences for terrorist-type offences.

Mr. Mellor : In 1989, 15 prisoners were transferred from England and Wales to Northern Ireland under section 26 of the Criminal Justice Act 1961, one of whom was convicted of terrorist-type offences. One other prisoner was transferred under section 27. All were either domiciled in, or had close family links with, Northern Ireland. In the same year, four prisoners were transferred fom Northern Ireland to England and Wales under section 26, two under section 27 and one under section 28 of the Act.

Mr. McNamara : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners in British gaols give as their place of domicile (i) the Republic of Ireland and (ii) Northern Ireland ; and how many of these prisoners are serving sentences for terrorist-type offences as on 31 December 1989.

Mr. Mellor : The information which is readily available centrally relates to prisoners' place of birth and to those terrorist-type prisoners who are held in category A. On 31 December 1989, 561 sentenced inmates of prison establishments in England and Wales were recorded as born in the Republic of Ireland and 378 in Northern

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Ireland. Of those, 13 born in the Republic of Ireland and 21 born in Northern Ireland had been convicted of terrorist- type offences and were held in category A.

Mr. McNamara : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners giving as their domicile either the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland have been permitted to return home to the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland on parole for humanitarian reasons in 1989.

Mr. Mellor : This information is not available.

Civil Unrest, Northern Ireland

Mr. McNamara : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the number of deaths and injuries which have occurred in Great Britain and mainland western Europe in 1989 which are regarded as being connected with present civil unrest in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Waddington : The information is given in the table.

Deaths and injuries in Great Britain and Western Europe in 1989                                                                     

attributable to Northern Irish terrorism                                                                                            

Date of incident and location             |Deaths                       |Injuries                                                   


20 February 1989                                                                                                                    

Clive Barracks, Tern Hill, Shropshire     |-                            |1                                                          


19 June 1989                                                                                                                        

Quebec Barracks, Osnabruck, West Germany  |-                            |1                                                          


2 July 1989                                                                                                                         

Hanover, West Germany                     |1                            |5                                                          


1 September 1989                                                                                                                    

York Barracks, Munster, West Germany      |0                            |2                                                          


7 September 1989                                                                                                                    

Dortmund, West Germany                    |1                            |0                                                          


22 September 1989                                                                                                                   

Royal Marines School of Music, Deal, Kent |11                           |21                                                         


20 October 1989                                                                                                                     

Wildenrath, West Germany                  |2                            |0                                                          


18 November 1989                                                                                                                    

Married quarters, nr. Goojerat Barracks,                                                                                            

   Colchester                             |0                            |2                                                          

                                          |---                          |---                                                        

Total                                     |15                           |32                                                         


Mr. McNamara : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what was the average number of days spent on remand by those remanded in custody for terrorist-type offences in 1989, with regard to cases now completed in England and Wales and the number of bail applications refused ;

(2) how many persons were remanded in custody before trial for terrorist- type offences in 1989.

Mr. Mellor : The only relevant information which is readily available relates to prisoners who are now in prison custody in category A and does not cover prisoners who have been released or downgraded.

Three such prisoners were first received in custody in 1989. The case of one of them has now been completed. This prisoner spent a total of 479 days on remand, and, according to our records, no applications for bail were made.

Mr. McNamara : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons in England and Wales were charged with terrorist-type offences relating to Northern Ireland in 1989 ; how many of those charged were released on bail ; and what was the average period between remand and trial for prisoners refused bail relating to such charges in Britain in 1989.

Mr. John Patten : The criminal statistics do not distinguish between terrorist-related and other offences. However, information about the number of people charged with criminal offences following detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act is published quarterly for Great Britain in statistical bulletins which are placed in the Library. The latest issue, 15/90, gives in table 1 the number charged in 1989 after detention in connection with Northern Ireland terrorism. Of the 12 people who were so charged in England and Wales in 1989, eight were charged with relatively minor offences ; six of these were dealt with at court on the same day or the next day, and two were released on bail. Of the four who were remanded in custody, one person who had been charged in February 1989 was brought to trial in April 1990, and a second, who had been charged in October 1989, was released in January 1990 after the Director of Public Prosecutions decided to offer no evidence against him. The two others, who were charged in December 1989, are currently in custody awaiting trial.

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Remand Prisoners

Mr. McNamara : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the average period of custodial remand for female custodial remand prisoners in England and Wales in 1989.

Mr. Mellor : I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to a question from the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) on 3 May, at column 658.


Mr. McNamara : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish a table showing the number of marches that have been banned in England and Wales in relation to Northern Ireland, since 1986, detailing what the marches were, who applied for permission to hold them and the grounds on which they were refused.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The only public processions relating to events in Northern Ireland which are known to have been prevented as a result of an order made under section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986 are a procession organised by the Manchester branch of the Apprentice Boys of Derry to take place on 21 November 1987 and a procession organised by Manchester Martyrs' Memorial Committee to take place the following day.

Section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986 provides that if a chief officer of police has reason to believe that his powers to impose conditions on public processions are not sufficient to prevent the holding of a procession from resulting in serious public disorder, he may apply to the district council for an order prohibiting all processions, or specified classes of processions, for a period not exceeding three months.

The district council may make such an order with the consent of the Home Secretary.


Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy to require a photograph of the bearer to appear on a certificate of registration as a firearms dealer.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : No. It would not be possible to do so as many firearms dealers are companies.

Visa Fees

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the income from visa fees for each of the offices in the United Kingdom from 1980 to the present for each year inclusive.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The information is not available in the form requested. The table shows the total income received from fees for visas issued in the United Kingdom for the financial years 1981-82 to 1984-85 inclusive and by office for the financial years 1985-86 to 1989-90 inclusive.

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Visa fees                                                                                                          



               |1981-82  |1982-83  |1983-84  |1984-85  |1985-86  |1986-87  |1987-88  |1988-89  |1989-90            

National Total |186,925  |287,815  |388,378  |556,135  |-        |-        |-        |-        |-                  

London         |-        |-        |-        |-        |737,639  |915,407  |1,121,027|1,318,245|1,437,983          

Liverpool      |-        |-        |-        |-        |76,411   |105,099  |127,338  |112,446  |89,100             

Peterborough   |-        |-        |-        |-        |44,236   |57,856   |78,713   |95,618   |123,220            

Newport        |-        |-        |-        |-        |38,784   |49,466   |57,022   |56,682   |62,900             

Glasgow        |-        |-        |-        |-        |29,601   |33,905   |39,588   |<1>39,000|<1>65,400          

Belfast        |-        |-        |-        |-        |971      |1,856    |2,493    |3,080    |2,816              

Lunar House    |-        |-        |-        |-        |n.a.     |27,000   |65,000   |77,000   |99,000             


Remand System

Sir John Wheeler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is yet in a position to announce the Government's decisions on private sector involvement in the remand system.

Mr. Waddington : In his statement to the House on 1 March 1989, at columns 277-78, my right hon. Friend the then Home Secretary indicated that, in the light of the comments received on the Green Paper "Private Sector Involvement in the Remand System"--July 1988, Cm. 434--and of the report to the Home Office on the practicality of such involvement from the management consultants Deloitte, Haskins and Sells, the Government wished to take further their consideration of the possibility of contracting out to the private sector the design, construction and operation of new remand centres, the escorting of prisoners to and from court and their guarding whilst at court. Final decisions depended, however, on the outcome of further research into the likely cost-effectiveness of contracting out in these areas.

In the light of the results of this further research, I have decided to go ahead with preparations to reorganise arrangements for court escorts, custody and security services and to invite competitive tenders for the provision of these services. I am confident that the resulting rationalisation of the existing complex and overlapping arrangements will lead to a substantial improvement in the cost-effectiveness with which these services are provided. An important objective of the new arrangements will be to enable the police and prison services to concentrate their efforts on work which makes more effective use of the skills and training of their officers.

I am today issuing to interested parties a discussion document setting out the Government's proposals in greater detail, and describing the legislative framework which the Government propose should support the reorganisation of these services. A copy has been placed in the Library. Further copies can be obtained from Room 1103, Home Office, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London, SW1H 9AT. Any comments should be submitted to the same address by 7 September 1990. The further evidence which has been obtained on the

cost-effectiveness of privately operated remand centres indicates that the private sector could, if invited to operate remand centres, reasonably be expected to provide a good standard of service and value for money for the taxpayer. But the opportunities for involving the private sector in the running of remand centres will be considerably more limited than appeared likely at the time of the publication of the Green Paper and my right hon. Friend's statement on 1 March 1989.

In the context of a general reduction in the prison population recently, the remand population in custody, including those held in police cells, has fallen from an average of 11,400 in 1988 to an average of 10,500 in 1989, and at the end of May this year stood at about 9,800. The proposals set out in the White Paper "Crime, Justice and Protecting the Public"--February 1990, Cm. 965--should

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