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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 15 October 1991



Mr. Fraser : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total amount which has now been raised from privatisation issues of shares in the last decade.

Mr. Maude : Total privatisation proceeds in the decade to 1990-91 are £33 billion.

Central Statistical Office

Mr. Wray : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will detail the changes recently made on proposals for the Central Statistical Office to improve the accuracy and reliability of its work.

Mr. Maples [holding answer 14 October 1991] : I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave him on 13 May 1991 at col. 19 . The Central Statistical Office is continuing to implement the package of measures to improve the reliability of economic data which the then Chancellor of the Exchequer announced to the House of Commons on 17 May 1990.

Latest economic statistics are benefiting from the inclusion of results from the following new inquiries :

(i) the annual share register survey on holdings of shares by economic sectors ;

(ii) the strengthened statutory quarterly inquiries into stocks and capital expenditure ;

(iii) the statutory and expanded quarterly overseas direct investment inquiry ;

(iv) the statutory quarterly overseas trade in services inquiry ; (v) the trade valuation survey ;

(vi) the statutory financial assets and liabilities survey to industrial and commercial companies ;

(vii) the statutory quarterly profits inquiry to industrial and commercial companies.

The benefits of other projects will be feeding through into national accounts estimates over the next 12 months or so. These include, for example, new statutory inquiries

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into the turnover of service trades launched earlier this year and the new quarterly labour force survey to be launched early next year.

Further improvements should also come from proposals for future developments outlined in the summer 1991 issue of the Treasury Bulletin including :

(i) developments of the balance of payments estimates following a review of these statistics ;

(ii) studies of the transactions of financial institutions aimed at reduction of the imbalances within the sectoral accounts ; (iii) developments in the main registers used for economic statistics and integration of the separate registers maintained by Central Statistical Office and Department of Environment on construction businesses.

Proposals are also being considered for improvements to early estimates including those series contributing to estimates of consumers' expenditure and series used to compile estimates of output of the economy.

The Government attach great importance to the need for reliable economic statistics and will consider further measures to maintain and improve the quality of economic data as the need arises.

Gross Domestic Product

Mr. Lawson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a table showing the average annual rate of growth of GDP, excluding North sea oil and gas, over the periods 1969 to 1979, 1970 to 1980, 1973 to 1979, 1979 to 1989, 1980 to 1990 and 1983 to 1989.

Mr. Norman Lamont : The information is as follows :

Average annual rate of growth of     

gross domestic product               

excluding North sea oil and gas      

Time period  |Per cent.              


1969 to 1979 |1.9                    

1970 to 1980 |1.4                    

1973 to 1979 |1.0                    

1979 to 1989 |2.1                    

1980 to 1990 |2.5                    

1983 to 1989 |3.8                    

Mortgage Payments

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 18 July, Official Report , column 251-52 , on mortgage payments, if he will update the table and give the information on a monthly basis.

Mr. Maude : The current costs net of basic rate relief for average new building society mortgages in the second quarter of 1988 are shown in the following table.

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Monthly interest payment<1>                                                                                   

                         |Average new                                                                         

                         |building society                                                                    


                         |Quarter 2, 1988 |June 1988<2>    |Current<3>      |Increase                         

Region                   |£               |£               |£               |£                                


Northern region          |22,200          |135.98          |158.87          |22.89                            

Yorkshire and Humberside |23,000          |140.88          |164.59          |23.71                            

East Midlands            |27,000          |165.38          |193.22          |27.84                            

East Anglia              |34,800          |222.95          |260.49          |37.54                            

Greater London           |54,900          |387.10          |452.28          |65.18                            

South East               |44,500          |302.17          |353.04          |50.87                            

South West               |34,900          |223.77          |261.44          |37.67                            

West Midlands            |28,100          |172.11          |201.09          |28.98                            

North West               |24,300          |148.84          |173.90          |25.06                            

Wales                    |23,900          |146.39          |171.03          |24.64                            

Scotland                 |24,200          |148.23          |173.18          |24.95                            

Northern Ireland         |24,300          |148.84          |173.90          |25.06                            


United Kingdom           |32,900          |207.43          |242.36          |34.93                            

<1>Assuming endowment mortgage, net of basic rate tax relief.                                                 

<2>At an interest rate of 9.8 per cent.                                                                       

<3>At an interest rate of 11.45 per cent.                                                                     

Council Tax

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what is his estimate of the number of (i) private surveyors and (ii) valuers required to work on the new council tax ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) what is his estimate of the cost of employing private valuers for the new council tax in Wales ;

(3) what is his estimate of the cost of employing private surveyors to work on the new council tax in Wales ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maples : By arrangement with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, the Inland Revenue's Valuation Office Agency has invited private sector valuers to register an interest in tendering for council tax valuation work for 50 per cent. of domestic properties in Wales. Over 220 firms in Wales have applied. The remaining 50 per cent. of council tax valuations in Wales will be undertaken by the Valuation Office Agency, which will deploy some 10 staff years of valuers on the work, supported by experienced technical and clerical staff.

Competitive tenders for work allocated to the private sector will be invited from suitable applicants on 25 October. The arrangements are designed to ensure good quality valuations and best value for money. Until tenders have been considered it is not possible to give a reliable estimate of the cost of private sector assistance.

VAT (Schools)

Mr. Straw : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the liability of (a) local authority schools and (b) grant- maintained schools to pay value added tax in respect of trading activities incidental to the schools' educational purposes.

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Mrs. Gillian Shephard : Educational materials supplied in class to school pupils, whether at local authority or grant-maintained schools, that are incidental to their education, and supplied by the providers of that education, are generally relieved from VAT. Where the educational establishment provides other goods which compete with similar supplies made by VAT registered traders then the normal VAT rules apply, otherwise distortion of competition could arise. However, generally such activities are mounted by individuals in schools so that tax is not payable until the VAT registration limit of £35,000 is exceeded.

EC Budget Council

Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the outcome of the meeting of European Ministers at the Budget Council in July.

Mr. Maude : The Budget Council met in Brussels on 25 July. I represented the United Kingdom. The Council established a first reading draft budget for 1992 totalling 65.6 becu (£45.7 billion) in commitment appropriations and 62.4 becu (£43.5 billion) in payment appropriations, respectively 986 mecu (£687 million) and 834 mecu (£581 million) below the relevant financial perspective ceiling. The draft budget is 35 mecu above the Commission's preliminary draft budget for commitments and 207 mecu below for payments.

The 1992 budget is the last under the current inter-institutional agreement (IIA) between the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament. The IIA incorporates expenditure ceilings for 1988-1992, the "financial perspective". The following table shows that the first reading draft budget respects all the financial perspective ceilings :

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                                            Financial perspective     Draft budget                          

                                           |mecu        |£ million<1>|mecu        |£ million                


Commitment appropriations                                                                                   

1. Agricultural guarantee                  |35,039      |24,417      |35,008      |24,396                   

2. Structural operations                   |18,009      |12,550      |18,009      |12,550                   

3. Multi-annual programmes                 |3,115       |2,171       |2,679       |1,867                    

4. Other policies                          |5,224       |3,640       |5,086       |3,544                    

5. Reimbursements and administration       |4,205       |2,930       |3,824       |2,665                    

6. Monetary reserve                        |1,000       |697         |1,000       |697                      

                                           |-------     |-------     |-------     |-------                  

Total: commitment appropriations of which: |66,592      |46,406      |65,606      |45,718                   

  obligatory                               |38,729      |26,989      |38,548      |26,862                   

  non-obligatory                           |27,863      |19,417      |27,058      |18,856                   

                                           |-------     |-------     |-------     |-------                  

Total: payment appropriations<2> of which: |63,241      |44,070      |62,407      |43,489                   

  obligatory                               |38,669      |29,947      |38,475      |26,812                   

  non-obligatory                           |24,572      |17,123      |23,932      |16,677                   

<1> The ERM central rate of £1=1.435 ecu is used throughout this reply.                                     

<2> There is only a global ceiling for payments.                                                            

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The provision for agricultural guarantee expenditure is 31 mecu below the agricultural guideline, which is fixed at 35,039 mecu (£24, 417 million). The draft budget includes provisions of 810 mecu (£564 million) for the cost of depreciating existing agricultural stocks, and 1,000 mecu (£697 million) for the monetary reserve which can be drawn on to cover part of any additional agricultural expenditure arising from the change in the dollar/ecu exchange rate.

For structural operations (which includes the structural funds), all the available headroom in the financial perspective category has been used. The increase in structural funds of around 19 per cent., as compared with 1991, reflects the path to achieve a real terms doubling of the 1987 level agreed as part of the 1988 reform of the funds.

Pending decisions on the amount of technical assistance to be made available to the USSR in 1992, the draft budget includes a provisional figure of 400 mecu (£278 million). There is also a provision of 1,007 mecu (£702 million) for aid to eastern Europe, which should enable the PHARE programme to be extended to include Albania. The Council also included 100 mecu (£70 million) as an exceptional reserve for food aid. This should make it easier to deal with urgent requests for aid. Similarly on humanitarian aid the draft budget includes appropriations of 60 mecu (£42 million).

The European Parliament will consider the draft budget at its plenary in late October. The Parliament's amendments and modifications will be considered at the second Budget Council on 12 November.


Mr. Nigel Lawson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a table showing, for each financial year from 1979-80 to 1989-90, inclusive, the amount of overfunding in (a) £M3 terms and (b) M4 terms.

Mr. Norman Lamont [holding answer 14 October 1991] : In-year overfunding from 1979-80 to 1989-90, inclusive, is shown in the following table. Figures for 1979-80 to 1987-88, inclusive, are shown in M3 terms and figures for 1988-89 to 1989-90 are shown in M4 terms :

In-year over (+)/under (-)    


Financial |£ billion          



1979-80   |-1.1               

1980-81   |-1.5               

1981-82   |3.6                

1982-83   |1.8                

1983-84   |4.3                

1984-85   |4.7                

1985-86   |-0.3               

1986-87   |-0.4               

1987-88   |0.0                

1988-89   |2.7                

1989-90   |-0.7               


1. NSB Investment Account     

became part of National       

Savings at 31 December 1980 ( 

from private sector to public 


2. Trustee Savings Banks      

became part of the            

non-funding sector from 31    

December 1981 when "banking   

sector" became "monetary      


3. From 1988-89, the funding  

sector consists of the        

overseas sector and the       

domestic private sector       

excluding banks and building  

societies. In earlier years   

the building societies were   

additionally included in the  

funding sector.               

4. Includes purchases of      

Treasury Bills by funding     

sector up to and including    

1988-89. From 1989-90,        

purchases of Treasury Bills   

no longer count as funding.   

5. The non-funding sector     

includes central Government,  

local authorities, public     

corporations, banks and, from 

1988-89, building societies.  



Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Minister for the Civil Service what Departments and executive agencies do not have a

give-as-you-earn payroll scheme ; and what proportion of staff have joined schemes that do exist.

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

Arrangements exist for individuals to avail themselves of the give-as-you- earn payroll scheme operating at their payroll centres. No central records exist of Departments and agencies which have not joined the schemes and this information could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The information we have indicates that approximately 8,500 staff have contributed some £1.4 million since November 1988.



Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the draft codes of practice for minimising noise currently being considered by his Department for approval under section 71 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 ; when he intends to approve these codes of practice ; and whether he intends to consult on any further codes of practice.

Mr. Baldry : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment and Countryside to the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) on 18 June, Official Report, column 126.

Since then, comments on the draft code on noise from clay pigeon shooting have been analysed, interested parties have been consulted on the draft code on noise from off-road motorcycle sport and the Health and Safety Executive is preparing comprehensive draft guidance on pop concert safety which includes advice on environmental noise. The Health and Safety Executive is expecting to issue this for public consultation later this month.

Single Homelessness

Mr. Fraser : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what further assistance his Department proposes to give to relieve the problem of single homelessness in south London.

Sir George Young : Single homeless people in south London will benefit from the Department's financial support to the Housing Corporation which will nearly double from £1.1 billion in 1990-91 to £2 billion in 1993-94. Housing associations expect to complete 100, 000 new homes over the next three years--some 9,000 in south London--and about half the new homes for rent will be targeted at homeless people. Single homeless people will also benefit from the Department's single homelessness initiative which has already provided 116 direct access

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hostel bedspaces in south London and will provide a further 576 places in permanent accommodation by the end of 1993- 94.

Disposable Nappies

Mr. Nigel Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will estimate the cost to the public purse of disposal of disposable nappies.

Mr. Baldry : The Department does not have adequate information on which to base such an estimate.

Estate Action Schemes

Mr. Fraser : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what applications were made by Lambeth borough council for estate action schemes for 1992-93.

Mr. Yeo : The London borough of Lambeth has submitted eight estate action bids for 1992-93 for the following schemes :

Birrell House

Clapham Park Estate

Kelvedon House

Myatts Field North Estate

Myatts Field South Estate

Penwith Manor Estate

Thorlands Estate

York Hill Estate

Estate action is a competitive bidding programme and successful bids will be announced in due course.


Mr. Speller : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps to encourage the separation of household waste and the delivery of this to recycling centres.

Mr. Baldry : My Department, together with the Department of Trade and Industry, is pursuing a range of policies designed to meet the Government's target of recycling 25 per cent. of household waste by the year 2000. Our latest progress report is in chapter 11 of "This Common Inheritance : The First Year Report" (September 1991, Cm. 1655).

Our policies include assistance to pilot recycling schemes, including those in Britain's recycling county, Devon. £40 million in supplementary credit approvals will be available over the next three years to enable local authorities to invest in recycling. £12 million has already been distributed for 1991-92.

We are monitoring pilot schemes to provide information on the most effective ways of recycling in different parts of the country. The results of that monitoring will inform further decisions on recycling, at local and national government level.

Greenhouse Programme

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to issue invitations for the first tranche of bidding under the greenhouse programme for the financial year 1992-93.

Mr. Yeo : In June all local housing authorities in England were invited to bid for the resources available in 1992-93, the second year of the Greenhouse programme. By the closing date for bids, 27 September, I had received

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over 350 separate applications for resources. These are now being considered with a view to announcing the names of successful authorities in December.

Royal Parks

Sir John Wheeler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will ensure that the Metropolitan police, the British Transport police, London Underground, London Buses, the London fire service, the London ambulance service, the St. Johns Ambulance, London district, the City of Westminster safety officer, the Health and Safety Executive, Westminster city council and the hon. Members for the City of London and Westminster, South (Mr. Brooke) and for Westminster, North are consulted as to safety, the use of resources and the wider public interest before the royal parks in central London are considered for use for profit or non- profit making public events.

Sir George Young : There are more than 200 events each year in the central royal parks. Many of them are attended by relatively small numbers of people and it is not necessary to consult on every occasion on the scale suggested. My Department is discussing with the Home Office future arrangements for dealing with large events in the parks including consultation with other parties. I will write to my hon. Friend when proposals have been prepared.

Golf Courses

Mr. Lewis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what recent planning guidelines he has issued in respect of the building of golf courses in greenbelt areas.

Mr. Yeo : The planning policy guidance note on sport and recreation (PPG17), published in September 1991, gives guidance on outdoor sport in green belts and on golf courses. Advice in PPG2, green belts, which was published in January 1988, is also relevant.

Housing (Racial Equality)

Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has approved the draft code of practice in non- rented housing submitted to him by the Commission for Racial Equality.

Mr. Heseltine : I have approved the draft code of practice and it has been laid before both Houses with effect from yesterday.

EC Environment Council

Mr. Couchman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the outcome of the EC Environment Council on 1 October 1991.

Mr. Trippier : My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment and I represented the United Kingdom at this Council.

The Council agreed a directive to introduce new standardised reporting arrangements into a large number of existing environmental directives. Member states will be required to submit information to the European Commission in a prescribed format every three years on

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the implementation of each directive concerned, with one exception. The Commission in turn will publish reports every three years, based on this information. The exception is the bathing water directive, where reports will be produced annually. The United Kingdom has strongly supported these proposals, which should help to ensure that existing environmental legislation is properly implemented and enforced throughout the Community.

The Council formally adopted a directive tightening emission limits from large diesel-engined vehicles, which was agreed in principle earlier this year. The new controls will come into effect in 1995 and 1996.

Considerable further progress was made towards agreement of the proposed directive on protecting the habitats of wild flora and fauna. Very few issues remain outstanding, and on these proposals were advanced which were acceptable to the large majority of member states, including the United Kingdom. The Presidency envisaged that final agreement should be possible at the next Environment Council in December.

The Council also discussed the proposed regulation establishing a new Community Environment Fund ("LIFE"), and the proposed regulation to control the movement of waste into, out of and within the Community. Brief reports were delivered concerning the progress of discussions on regulations about evaluating and controlling the risks posed by existing dangerous substances, about controlling the import and export of dangerous chemicals, and about establishing a Community eco-labelling scheme. The Commission introduced new communications to the Council on preparations for the 1992 United Nations conference on environment and development, and on measures to combat climate change, including the possibility of taxes on energy and the carbon content of fuels.

Water Use

Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment where, and in what form, it is possible for members of the general public to examine in respect of each water region in the United Kingdom or purchase, respectively, factual statements concerning use of, and consents for, industrial, agricultural, or other uses of ground water, together with documentations of the effect of all such statistics on the level of major water tables.

Mr. Baldry [holding answer 14 October 1991] : Information on all groundwater abstraction licences in England and Wales is held by the National Rivers Authority and is available on public registers at its regional offices. The authority also holds information on the levels of water tables.

The position in Scotland is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

At present there is no groundwater abstraction licensing system in Northern Ireland, but the position is currently under review.


Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what research he has commissioned concerning the development or discovery of scents or essences that can be used as attractants to dogs and so localise the locations of their waste.

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Mr. Baldry [holding answer 14 October 1991] : None. The Government believe that owners should keep their dogs under control and if necessary clear up after them.


Criminal Justice

Mr. McNamara : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what resources will be made available to the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice for the purpose of commissioning independent research.

Mr. John Patten : It is for the chairman of the Royal Commission to decide how to apportion the resources available to the commission. I understand that it is intended to allocate up to £0.5 million to independent research over the lifetime of the commission.

Information Flows

Mr. Hind : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to examine information flows between the police and the Government.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : I have decided that an efficiency scrutiny should be carried out with the following terms of reference : (a) To identify all the requirements for statistical information placed by Departments of central government on police forces in England and Wales (including the Metropolitan Police), in particular those of the Home Secretary for discharging his responsibilities for the police service ; and to examine the means whereby the material is gathered, transmitted, processed and distributed and the costs of these activities ;

(b) To examine critically the use to which all such material is put by central government (in particular by the Home Secretary) and to make recommendations about what information is needed to meet the responsibilities of the Home Office, and to promote value for money, and what information need no longer be collected. This should have regard also to the value the material has at different management levels within police forces (either having been collected and utilised locally or following its processing and distribution by central government) in ensuring the effective and efficient use of resources ;

(c) To make recommendations about (i) the frequency of the collection of such material as is concluded it is necessary to have ; (ii) the extent to which different demands can be met by simplifying and/or aggregating the statistics provided, and (iii) improving the efficiency of the collection, transmission, processing and distribution of this material, irrespective of the availability of technological assistance ; and

(d) In the light of (a) to (c) to make recommendations about a body of statistical information which the Home Secretary might, with the agreement of ACPO and the local authority associations, suggest to chief constables as both desirable and sufficient for inclusion in force annual reports.

The scrutiny began yesterday and I expect to receive the report next February.

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