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1978-79 |6,300        

1979-80 |6,930        

1980-81 |7,600        

1981-82 |9,100        

1982-83 |12,000       

1983-84 |12,720       

1984-85 |13,300       

1985-86 |13,860       

1986-87 |14,300       

1987-88 |14,660       

1988-89 |14,953       

1989-90 |14,953       

Grants under the special grants programme are given to assist voluntary organisations become established or to carry out specific projects. It is not the intention to provide permanent funding and grants are normally given for a maximum of three years. In the case of the National Gypsy Council, it was felt that their work was sufficiently valuable to warrant a longer period of support, but this is now being progressively withdrawn so that they have the stimulus to become more self-sufficient.

Empty Housing

Mr. Ken Hargreaves : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the most recent figure for local authority housing empty for over one year in England.

Mr. Key : Local authorities report the number of their dwellings which have been empty for over one year in their annual housing investment programme returns--HIP1. The estimated total of such dwellings in England at 1 April 1990 appears in column A188 of "1990 HIP1--Regional Grossing", a copy of which is in the Library.

Mr. Ken Hargreaves : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many private dwellings in England have remained empty for more than 12 months.

Mr. Key : A recent estimate is not available.

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Diesel Smoke

Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what regulations control the emission of diesel smoke from equipment used on building and construction sites ; which agency is responsible for enforcement ; and what action has been taken to control such emissions.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Part III of the Public Health Act 1936, to be replaced on 1 January 1991 by the strengthened and improved provisions in part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, applies to emissions which could be prejudicial to the health of or a nuisance to people in the vicinity of such equipment. Section 1 of the Clean Air Act 1968 applies to dark smoke emissions from building or construction sites. Local authorities are responsible for taking action under both measures as the need arises. The Health and Safety at Work Act., etc. 1974 and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations apply to emissions which may be hazardous to the health of workers on building or construction sites : the Health and Safety Executive is responsible for enforcement.

Housing Corporation

Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many circulars the Housing Corporation has issued between January and September 1990 ; and at what cost.

Mr. Michael Spicer : The Department does not hold the information requested. I have asked the Housing Corporation to write to my hon. Friend.

Community Charge (Exemption Certificates)

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he intends to review the guidelines issued to general practitioners who sign exemption certificates in respect of the poll tax to seek to achieve greater consistency in interpretation of the current rules.

Mr. Key : Advice was issued to general practitioners by the Department of Health and to local authorities by my Department on 2 July ; there is no intention at present to issue any further advice.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will list 20 per cent. of the community charge for each local authority ;

(2) if he will list the numbers exempted from paying the community charge due to severe mental impairment by each local authority in England.

Mr. Key : I am arranging for the available information to be placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many pensioners have (a) ceased to be eligible for exemption from community charge as a result of SI 1990 No. 462 or (b) had to wait for receipt of attendance allowance to fulfil the conditions for exemption from community charge.

Mr. Key : Information is held only on the numbers of people who fall within each exempt group. SI 1990/462

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increased the scope of the exemption from the personal community charge for those who are severely mentally impaired by providing that the cause of that condition should be disregarded and amending the list of qualifying conditions. The inclusion of attendance allowance and constant attendance allowance for these purposes, for which entitlement continues beyond pensionable age, meant that the condition that a person should be of pensionable age was no longer required.

London Residuary Body

Mr. Fishburn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the reappointments of the members of the London residuary body.

Mr. Key : The following have been reappointed to the London residuary body for the period 1 January 1991 to 31 March 1993 or until the dissolution of the body, whichever is sooner :

Members :

Councillor Sir Peter Bowness, CBE, DL

J Esling

W Mackenzie, OBE

M C Roberts

J Wolkind, CBE

The London residuary body has completed the bulk of its ex-GLC tasks and has already distributed £486 million in capital receipts and £184 million in revenue balances for the benefit of London's chargepayers.

The reappointments reflect my right hon. Friend's confidence in the board's ability to discharge the new tasks which the residuary body assumed on 1 April 1990 on the abolition of ILEA.

Dispatch Services

Mrs. Gorman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to announce the outcome of the sale competition for the Crown Suppliers' vehicle hire business and the interdepartmental dispatch service.

Mr. Portillo : Discussions are continuing on the sale of the Crown Suppliers' vehicle hire and maintenance business. An announcement will be made as soon as possible. There are no acceptable bids for the interdepartmental dispatch service, which will, therefore, be retained in government.

Local Government Economic Development

Mrs. Gorman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has received any representations about the Local Government (Promotion of Economic Development) Regulations 1990 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Key : The Association of District Councils and a number of individual councils have argued that it would be sufficient if local authorities that are not education authorities consulted their local education authority about the programmes of education and training that they provide for economic development purposes. We have accepted this, and the Department is consulting the local authority associations on draft regulations to replace the current requirement to obtain the consent of the local education authority to those programmes with a requirement to consult the local education authority. The

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draft regulations also make it clear that the new economic development power is not intended to change the rules on the disposal of land at less than the best considered reasonably obtainable.

Council House Sales

Mr. Fishburn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many dwellings each local authority has sold under the right to buy legislation, or voluntarily, in each year since 1979 ; and what percentage of the total local authority stock they represent.

Mr. Key : I have placed in the Library two tables giving available information on local authority sales up to June 1990. Table 1 shows year by year information for each authority during the years 1979-80 to 1985-86. Table 2 shows year by year information for each authority since 1985-86 together with cumulative figures since April 1979 and the proportion of their stock sold since April 1979.


Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much money will be made available for the development of the two direct access hostels in Lambeth and Islington to meet long-term emergency housing needs in north and south London ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : I have been asked to reply.

The Resettlement Agency is committed to completing the Camberwell replacement programme including assisting with the funding of a further two direct access hostels. As there have been no viable proposals for these hostels, none of the agency's funding has been allocated for them. Should such proposals be received they will be considered by the chief executive who will weigh them alongside the rest of the agency's replacement priorities.


Crown Prosecution Service

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Attorney-General how many vacancies there are currently in the Crown prosecution service for (a) solicitors or barristers and (b) other staff.

The Attorney-General : The Crown prosecution service currently has 377 vacancies for solicitors or barristers, with a total of 1,674 being in post. It has 21.5 vacancies for other staff, with 2,753.5 being in post.


A6, Higham Ferrers

Mr. Fry : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will consider the installation of a pedestrian crossing on the A6 at the market square, Higham Ferrers.

Mr. Chope : A request for a pelican crossing on the A6 has been received from Higham Ferrers town council and is being considered. A decision is expected by the end of the year.

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Railway Electrification

Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals British Rail has put to him for extending the electrification of the Hooton to Chester and Helsby railway line.

Mr. McLoughlin : British Rail, together with Cheshire county council and other local councils and the Merseyside passenger transport authority, has proposed that the lines from Hooton to Chester and to Ellesmere Port should be electrified. I am examining this proposal.

Cam Spirit

Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department's inspectors are satisfied that the vessel Cam Spirit is suitable for use as a standby vessel for North sea operations.

Mr. McLoughlin : A standby vessel for North sea operations has to be surveyed annually if a certificate of inspection is to be issued to it under a code published by the Department. The Cam Spirit satisfied the requirements of this code when she was last surveyed by a marine surveyor in December 1989. The next survey is due in a few weeks.


Sound Amplification

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Minister for the Arts if he will obtain for his office's library a copy of the recent report produced jointly by the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust and the Arts Council on provision for hard-of-hearing audiences, entitled, "Sound Off".

Mr. Renton : I have already done so. The report is a helpful survey of the provision of sound amplification equipment in London's theatres. It also explains how theatres, cinemas, museums, galleries, libraries and other arts venues can apply to the ADAPT fund. This fund is part funded by the Government and assists in making essential adaptations and providing facilities for people with disabilities.

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Minister for the Arts what plans he has to encourage increased provision for sound amplification equipment in theatres, concert halls and opera houses.

Mr. Renton : My aim is for the arts to be accessible to everyone. The Government have given £150,000 to the Carnegie Trust's ADAPT fund for the improvement of facilities for disabled people in arts venues. By use of challenge grants the fund aims to encourage additional, and at least equal, financial contributions from local communities. Some of the fund has been used to assist with the installation of sound amplification equipment, and applications are invited for further projects.


Private Investors

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of United Kingdom share capital was held by private investors in each year since 1979.

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Mr. Maude : Up-to-date information on the share capital held by private individuals is not yet available. Results from December 1989 survey of share registers conducted by the Central Statistical Office are due to be published in the near future.

Current estimates of the value of ordinary and preference shares held by the personal sector, which consists of individuals resident in the United Kingdom, unincorporated private businesses, sole trader and partnerships, non-profit making bodies serving persons and private trusts are as follows :

UK Ordinary and Preference Shares held by the Personal      


End Year     Market value of shares outstanding of which    

            |Total      |Personal   |Personal               

                        |Sector     |Sector                 

            |(£ billion |(£ billion)|Percentage             



1979        |83.5       |29.8       |35.8                   

1980        |105.7      |37.1       |35.2                   

1981        |115.6      |36.7       |31.7                   

1982        |141.5      |43.3       |30.6                   

1983        |178.3      |52.3       |29.4                   

1984        |226.6      |59.1       |26.1                   

1985        |267.2      |66.5       |24.9                   

1986        |349.9      |91.1       |26.0                   

1987        |395.8      |117.9      |29.8                   

1988        |429.0      |123.4      |28.8                   

1989        |550.0      |145.9      |26.5                   

These figures are consistent with those to be published in table 14.5 of the December issue of "Financial Statistics".



Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will prosecute Charles Church Development, and Torday and Carlisle, Prowting under section 234(3) and (7) and paragraph 5 of schedule 3 to the Companies Act 1985 for failure to specify the recipients of political donations.

Mr. Redwood : In accordance with its usual practice in response to specific allegations of non-compliance with statutory disclosure requirements, my Department will look into this.

Scottish Electricity Industry

Mr. Carrington : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he proposes to exlude from the application of United Kingdom restrictive trade practices legislation the contracts entered into between the successor companies to the Scottish electricity boards for the restructuring of the Scottish electricity industry prior to privatisation.

Mr. Redwood : Scottish Power plc and Scottish Hydro-Electric plc are required by the terms of their licences to enter into certain restructuring contracts, which are designed to give the companies access to a balanced portfolio of generating assets on a long-term basis and to govern the operation of their transmission assets. The Government intend that these contracts should, in view of their fundamental importance to the restructuring of the Scottish electricity supply industry for the purpose of

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privatisation, be excluded from the ambit of United Kingdom restrictive trade practices legislation. Yesterday, I therefore laid before the House an order made under section 100(2) of the Electricity Act 1989, exempting the contracts from the ambit of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976.

For the future, the Government are proposing to introduce new legislation on restrictive trade practices, in implementation of the proposals outlined in the White Paper "Opening Markets : New Policy on Restrictive Trade Practices"--CM 727--published in July 1989. It is our intention that the exemptions granted to the Scottish restructuring contracts under current restrictive trade practices legislation should be carried forward by means of an exclusion from the proposed prohibition on restrictive agreements. The proposed legislation will be introduced when parliamentary time permits.

Government Contracts

Mr. Ian Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement about the Government contracts preference schemes (GCPS).

Mr. Leigh : The Government contracts preference schemes, which apply in the development areas of Great Britain, and in Northern Ireland, have been little used in recent years. The schemes were introduced in the 1930s, and aim to give opportunities to businesses in those areas to secure public sector contracts if their bids are competitive. In Northern Ireland, though not in Great Britain, a price preference of 5 per cent. has been allowable for goods manufactured in the Province.

In the development of a more open framework of public sector procurement rules within the Community, and in the broader approach to the single market, the Government agree with the EC Commission and other member states that it is inappropriate for public sector procurement contracts to be reserved for businesses in particular areas, even the very limited provisions of the United Kingdom's schemes.

The Government have therefore decided that the contract preference schemes are to be terminated. Applications from businesses to be recorded as eligible under the schemes will not be accepted after close of business on 31 December 1990.

This arrangement provides a short period of notice of termination, and is intended to minimise the effect on businesses which may have prepared, or are preparing, bids and tenders in the expectation that the schemes would be in place. It means that for prospective contracts and invitations first issued by the schemes' participating purchasing organisations on or before 31 December 1990, eligible applicants may continue to use the scheme up to the stage of tender and final contract even when the contract-placing timetables go beyond that date. However, the schemes will not apply in any respect for new prospective contracts or invitations to tender issued after 31 December 1990.

Help for businesses to effectively compete for public procurement contracts is now being offered in a number of ways under European and national programmes. The EC Commission's initiative to help businesses in objective 1 regions prepare for the single market--PRISMA--will be available in Northern Ireland. The Commission is also examining the potential to use existing initiatives more effectively, such as the Euro info centre and business

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co-operation networks, and the tenders electronic daily system, as a means of disseminating information on public procurement contracts to smaller companies.

My Department's single market campaign stresses the importance of the European public procurement market and a "Guide to Public Procurement" booklet is being issued widely. Enterprise initiative consultancy support in marketing and other business disciplines will help improve the competitiveness of firms bidding for public contracts, and more widely. Our "Managing into the 90s" programme is also promoting good purchasing practice. In addition, regional and local government development agencies, chambers of commerce and other private sector bodies are increasingly encouraging their member businesses to pay close attention to the opportunities of the public procurement market.

New Businesses

Mr. Oppenheim : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many new businesses have been set up in Amber Valley since 1979.

Mr. Forth : I have been asked to reply.

Between the end of 1979 and the end of 1989, there were an estimated 3,400 new registrations for VAT in the Amber Valley local authority district. During the same period, there were an estimated 2,700 deregistrations, giving a net increase of 700, or 29 per cent.


Haberdashers' Aske's CTC

Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list all amendments and variations from the terms of the model funding agreement for city technology colleges deposited in the Library in 1989, which he now intends to include in the specific agreement to fund a Haberdashers' Aske's city technology college.

Mr. Eggar : My right hon. and learned Friend expects to sign a funding agreement with the Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College Trust substantially the same in all respects as the revised model agreement placed in the Library on 31 October this year. This supersedes the version placed in the Library last Summer.

Natural Environment Research Council

Mr. Hanley : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science, whether he has received the annual report of the Natural Environment Research Council for 1989-90 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Alan Howarth : The annual report of the Natural Environment Research Council has been submitted to my right hon. and learned Friend under the requirements of the Science and Technology Act 1965, and a copy is being laid before the House today.

In the year that the Government's White Paper on the environment, "This Common Inheritance" was published, I believe that the council's report amply demonstrates the way it has been able to focus multidisciplinary research on a range of important global, regional and local environmental issues, including :

(a) the uptake of carbon dioxide by the oceans through two studies

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the North sea project, from which results indicate that the physical uptake of carbon dioxide by the oceans globally may be less than previously thought,

the biogeochemical ocean flux study--BOFS--where work in the north Atlantic shows that the biological transfer of carbon dioxide from the surface to deeper waters is stronger than previously supposed ; (b) the development of diagnostic tests to assess the impact of particular pollutants on key marine species, and the use of these species as "biological detectives" to monitor the impact of pollution for the ecosystem as whole ;

(c) the development of new analytical methods for the study of pesticides within river sediment, leading to the identification of reservoirs of compounds such as DDT, which have remained undetected for more than 20 years ;

(d) the development of computer-based models of changes in river quality, required for the effective management of water resources, which the council has also been able to exploit ;

(e) the successful development of efficient methods of reintroducing symbiotic fungi that help trees obtain essential nutriments from the soil, which should increase the success in replanting deforested areas.

(f) geochemical surveys which have helped to highlight areas of the United Kingdom where

toxic trace elements, organic compounds or soil gases for example radon, are present,

or essential elements such as copper are lacking, with implications for human, livestock or crop health.

I congratulate the council on these and its many other achievements and commend this report to hon. Members.



Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 29 November.

The Prime Minister : This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today. This evening I shall be attending a long-standing engagement in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Sir. F. Montgomery.)


Q9. Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it his policy to make greater use of statements to the House at 3.30 pm.

The Prime Minister : Ministers make statements when appropriate.

The Gulf

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss the ecological consequences of a military option in the Gulf with President Bush.

The Prime Minister : I have no plans to do so.

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with Saudi Arabia about military action against Iraq.

The Prime Minister : My right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) discussed the invasion of Kuwait, including the military aspects, with King Fahd and other members of the Government of Saudi Arabia on a number of occasions after 2 August. My right hon.

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Friends the Secretaries of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and for Defence have had similar discussions.

Government Offices and Civil Servants

Mr. Cryer : To ask the Prime Minister what steps he will take to ensure that all relevant rules are followed prohibiting Government offices and civil servants from being used on behalf of any political party by Ministers in his Government ; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 28 November 1990] : No special steps are necessary.


Mrs. Ann Clwyd : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list all visits of Government Ministers or officials to Malaysia, with dates since 1979.

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The Prime Minister [pursuant to the reply, 19 November 1990, c. 3- 4.] :


September--Mr. Hamilton, Minister of State, Defence


March--Mr. Hamilton, Minister of State, Defence

October--Mr. Hamilton, Minister of State, Defence

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