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Mr. Freeman : I will reply to these representations shortly.


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CHURCH COMMISSIONERS

Church Commissioners (Female Staff)

35. Mr. Dickens : To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners what proportion of the Church Commissioners are women ; and what plans there are for more women to be appointed to senior staff positions.

Mr. Alison : Excluding clergy and ex-officio commissioners, six out of 25 elected or appointed commissioners are women. Promotion of the commissioners' staff is based on merit and I am pleased to say that women currently hold grades up to and including grade 6 (senior principal).

Women Priests

36. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners what is the latest estimate of the sum of money earmarked as compensation for clergy and others who resign following the General Synod's decision on the ordination of women ; and if he will make a statement.

38. Mr. Anthony Coombs : To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners what estimate he has made of the financial effects of changes in clergy numbers resulting from the General Synod's decision on ordination of women.

Mr. Alison : I refer my hon. Friends to the answer I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland).

Pensions

37. Mr. David Evans : To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners what provision the Commissioners have made for early retirement in the pension arrangements for incumbents.

Mr. Alison : The clergy scheme makes provision for early retirement with an immediate pension in two situations. First, clergy may take voluntary early retirement up to five years before the minimum normal pension age of 65, with benefits based on actual service but reduced for early commencement. Secondly, clergy may take ill health retirement at any age, subject to medical evidence, with benefits based on actual plus prospective service.

Baptismal Certificates (Fees)

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners what is the percentage increase in the income of stipendaries' fees for baptismal certificates in the last five years.

Mr. Alison : The fee payable to the incumbent for a certificate of baptism has risen from £2.50 in 1987 to £4 in 1992, an increase of 60 per cent.

ENVIRONMENT

Council Tax

Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to alter the council tax multiplier to 3/6 at band A, 6/6 at band D and 18/6 at band H.


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Mr. Robin Squire : No.

Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to provide for an A1 band for council tax for properties worth less than £30,000, in areas where 50 per cent. of properties are in band A.

Mr. Robin Squire : No.

Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many appeals against valuation banding are expected or planned for after 1 April ; how quickly appeals will be heard after 1 April by the Inland Revenue ; and what is the expected wait for a hearing on average.

Mr. Robin Squire : Appeals against council tax banding will start life as proposals to alter banding lists. It is impossible to predict the number of such proposals which will be made after 1 April 1993, and it is therefore pointless to speculate on the length of time it will take to deal with them.

We have, however, made administrative plans to deal with the eventuality of up to 950,000 initial proposals (5 per cent. of domestic properties), earmarking sufficient funds for this purpose in the recent public expenditure survey. We will review our plans when we have a clearer view of the likely workload.

Ms. Jowell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the effect the proposed council tax levy on nursing and residential care homes will have on residents of these homes ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Robin Squire : The council tax bills faced by care home owners will generally be modest, especially when compared to the total running costs of such homes. They will benefit from the banding arrangements, which mean that the council tax bill for the most expensive dwelling is limited to twice that for a band D home in the same area. Many care home owners will also receive reductions for disabilities, 50 per cent. personal discounts and transitional reductions. Taking account of all these reductions, the council tax is likely to add only a few tens of pence a week per resident to the costs of running a home--a tiny fraction of total costs.

Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when his office will produce details of (a) national average council tax band D equivalent, (b) the percentage of winners and losers in each region, (c) council tax benefit tapers and (d) the transitional relief scheme.

Mr. Robin Squire [holding answer 26 November 1992] : The answer to (a) can only be calculated after local authorities have set their council tax for 1993-94 next spring. We have no intention of making any predictions of national average council taxes. Similarly, on (b), we shall be making no predictions of winners and losers in each region.

On (c), the Secretary of State for Social Security announced the details of the council tax benefit scheme on 28 November 1991. The scheme includes a taper of 20 per cent. which means that for those with income above their appropriate applicable amount, council tax benefit will be reduced by 20p for every £1 of excess income.


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On (d), the details of the transitional relief scheme were announced in the statement my right hon. and learned Friend made on 26 November.

Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how single person households will be better off under the council tax, ignoring transitional relief, than under the poll tax.

Mr. Robin Squire [holding answer 26 November 1992] : This will depend on the council taxes which local authorities set in the spring. Local taxes are a matter for local authorities to determine in the light of their local circumstances.

Urban Programme

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much funding Leicester has received under the urban programme at 1992 prices for each of the last three years ; how many projects have been supported ; and how many people have been employed by them in jobs and in training schemes.

Mr. Robin Squire : The information requested on Leicester's urban programme is as follows :


                               |1990-91|1991-92|1992-93        

---------------------------------------------------------------

UP funding (£ million) 1992-93                                 

 prices                        |5.74   |5.34   |4.70           

Projects supported<1>          |122    |138    |112            

Jobs created/preserved<1>      |190    |164    |154            

Training places supported<1>   |1,540  |3,494  |1,875          

<1> Sources: Leicester UP annual report 1990-91 and Leicester  

UP submissions 1991-92 and 1992-93.                            

UP funding for 1990-91 and 1991-92 are actuals, adjusted by GDP deflator indices. UP funding for 1992-93 is the current allocation.

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his estimate of people who were employed in each of the last three years by schemes funded by the urban programme in (a) jobs and (b) training schemes ; and what was the number of people whose employment depended indirectly on the existence of these schemes, in each of the last three years.

Mr. Robin Squire : The information requested is as follows :


|c|Number of people employed by schemes funded by|c|                            

|c|Urban Programme|c|                                                           

                    |<1>Jobs            |<1>Training Schemes                    

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1990-91             |29,660             |86,528                                 

1991-92             |34,242             |68,551                                 

1992-93             |33,973             |74,097                                 

<1>Sources: Annual reports 1990-91 and urban programme submissions 1991-92 and  

1992-93.                                                                        

Information is not held on the number of people whose employment depended indirectly on the existence of these schemes.

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total number of schemes funded by the urban programme for each of the last three years ; and what was the total funding at 1992 prices for each of the last three years.


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Mr. Robin Squire : The information requested on the urban programme is as follows :


                   |UP funding (£     |<1>Total number of                   

                   |million) 1992-93  |schemes funded                       

                   |prices                                                  

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

1990-91            |271.4             |9,855                                

1991-92            |258.4             |6,911                                

1992-93            |237.2             |8,782                                

<1>Sources: Urban programme annual report 1991 and urban programme          

submissions 1991-92 and 1992-93.                                            

Urban programme funding for 1990-91 and 1991-92 are actuals, adjusted by GDP deflator indices. Urban programme funding for 1992-93 is the initial allocation, excluding district health authority projects.

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what consultations he has had before deciding to abolish the urban programme.

Mr. Robin Squire : The urban programme has not been abolished. We have made provision of £176 million for the urban programme in 1993-94 which will enable existing commitments to be honoured and approved projects to continue. In addition, some £20 million in uncommitted urban programme resources for 1993-94 will be available in urban programme areas to promote urban regeneration through the urban partnership fund. The urban partnership fund will complement the extra power to spend capital receipts which local authorities will enjoy following the announcement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment on 13 November 1992.

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on what provisions are being made for consideration of schemes currently funded by the urban programme when their funding comes up for renewal.

Mr. Robin Squire : It is for local authorities and project managers to consider in the normal way how to fund projects when their period of urban programme support expires.

Business Rates

Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has about the accepted length of time before appeals lodged now with the Salford valuation office regarding business rates are heard.

Mr. Robin Squire : An appeal about business rates starts life as a proposal to alter an entry in a non-domestic rating list, made to the local valuation office. If the matter is not resolved within six months, it is automatically referred to a valuation tribunal as an appeal. Those proposals lodged with the Salford valuation office are referred as appeals to the Manchester, South valuation tribunal.


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Valuation tribunals are independent bodies and the priority and timing of cases is a matter for them.

Following the non-domestic revaluation on 1 April 1990, Manchester South valuation tribunal initially received about 15,800 substantive appeals. Most of these were received towards the end of that financial year. By the end of September 1992, some 18 months later, 9,300 appeals had been cleared. This is consistent with the national plan to clear original list appeals within three years of their receipt.

Unitary Status

Mr. Nigel Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when the Local Government Commission will examine requests from areas within existing metropolitan districts for unitary status ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Robin Squire : We intend to ask the Local Government Commission to look at boundary issues in the metropolitan counties when it has completed its programme of reviews in the shires. If the commission finds evidence that metropolitan district boundaries need to be looked at before then, my right hon. Friend can consider this in relation to the commission's programme.

Local Government Review

Mr. Patrick Thompson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what relationship or link there is between the review of local government and the work of the Parliamentary Boundary Commission.

Mr. Robin Squire [holding answer 27 November 1992] : So far as practicable, the Boundary Commission for England should avoid recommending constituencies which cross county or London borough boundaries. The Commission is due to submit its next report to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary by 31 December 1994 on the basis of the local government boundaries effective at 1 June 1994. We hope to implement the first changes following reviews by the Local Government Commission for England of local government structure, boundaries and electoral arrangements on 1 April 1994. The Local Government Commission is required to consult the boundary commission on its draft recommendations.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Ministerial Visits

Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many nights each Minister of his Department stayed in Northern Ireland in each of the months of May, June, July, August, September and October.

Mr. Mates : The information is :


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Month              |Secretary of State|Mr. Atkins        |Mr. Mates         |Lord Arran        |Mr. Hanley        |Total                                

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May                |14                |9                 |11                |13                |16                |63                                   

June               |8                 |11                |10                |13                |12                |54                                   

July               |11                |10                |11                |10                |9                 |51                                   

August             |7                 |3                 |13                |10                |5                 |38                                   

September          |13                |9                 |10                |9                 |11                |52                                   

October            |17                |8                 |9                 |11                |11                |56                                   

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

Total              |70                |50                |64                |66                |64                |314                                  

Public Interest Immunity Certificates

Mr. Mallon : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many public interest immunity certificates were issued by him or his predecessors in relation to court cases in Northern Ireland since 1972 ;

(2) how many public interest immunity certificates were issued by him or his predecessors in relation to coroners' inquests in Northern Ireland since 1972.

Sir Patrick Mayhew : No central record is held of public interest immunity certificates issued in relation to court cases or coroners' inquests in Northern Ireland since 1972.

Glen Road Travellers' Site

Dr. Hendron : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how much money has been spent by the Department of the Environment (NI) on the upkeep of the unauthorised Glen road travellers' site over the past five years ;

(2) how much money has been spent by the Belfast city council on the upkeep of the unauthorised Glen road travellers' site over the last five years.

Mr. Atkins : I understand that Belfast city council has spent approximately £50,000 and the Department of the Environment has not spent any money on the upkeep of the unauthorised site in the last five years.

Dr. Hendron : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much money has been spent by Belfast city council on the provision and maintenance of the official travellers' site at Glen road.

Mr. Atkins : I understand that provision of the official travellers site at Glen road has cost Belfast city council £915,000 to date, which will be reimbursed by the Department of the Environment, and that approximately £9,000 has been spent by the council on maintenance.

Dr. Hendron : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what effect on the timetable for the provision of Northern Ireland Housing Executive houses is being caused by the presence of the travellers on the unauthorised Glen road site.

Mr. Atkins : I understand from the Housing Executive that no delay has been caused on the timetable for provision of houses by the executive.

Dr. Hendron : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the immediate plans for the unauthorised site at Glen road and the travellers currently camped there.

Mr. Atkins : Belfast city council proposes to move the travellers from the unauthorised site to an interim site on Glen road. The site will then be secured. In the longer term these travellers will be reallocated permanent sites planned by Belfast city council.

Dr. Hendron : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the estimated cost of their future plans for the Glen road site.

Mr. Atkins : Future capital spend on the Glen road travellers site is estimated by Belfast city council as £50,000.


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The estimated cost of the first phase of the Housing Executive's public housing scheme at Glen road is £2 million.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Legal Training

45. Ms. Hoey : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when the Lord Chancellor next intends to meet the Council for Legal Education to discuss the training in the legal profession.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The Lord Chancellor has no plans to meet the Council for Legal Education at present.

Judges

Mr. Llwyd : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will bring forward proposals to establish a review panel in order to monitor the performance of judges.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The Lord Chancellor has no plans to do so.

Magistrates Courts, Wales

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many magistrates courts have been closed in each of the counties of Wales in each of the last three years ; how many are scheduled for closure ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John M. Taylor : This information is not collected centrally. The decision to close a magistrates courthouse is a local decision for the magistrates courts committee concerned after consulting with its local paying authority. There is no requirement for my Department to be kept informed of closures unless a paying authority appeals to the Lord Chancellor against a magistrates courts committee's decision. A magistrates courthouse is usually owned by the paying authority, not my Department.

Divorce Law Reform

Mr. Llwyd : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will bring forward legislation to implement in full the Law Commission's proposals on reforms of the divorce law.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The Lord Chancellor is considering the Law Commission's recommendations for reform of divorce law. He has no immediate plans for legislation but he welcomes any views on the appropriate response to these recommendations.

Family Mediation

Mr. Llwyd : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make it his policy to establish and fund a United Kingdom-wide network of family mediation services.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The Lord Chancellor is considering the role and funding of family mediation services in England and Wales as part of the wider review of family law announced earlier this year and has no immediate plans to establish and fund a national network of such services.


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Meanwhile, local family mediation services in England and Wales are funded by the voluntary and private sectors with assistance in some areas from the probation service and local authorities. Separate arrangements operate in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Legal Aid, Wales

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many legal aid certificates which were valid up to and including trial were issued in each of the counties of Wales for each of the last six years.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The Legal Aid Board publishes statistics on the number of certificates issued in respect of civil proceedings in its annual reports (Tables "Civil 6" and "Civil 7" on pages 52 and 53 of the 1991-92 report). The number of defendants and appellants receiving legal aid in the Crown court are itemised in the Department's annual publication "Judicial Statistics" (Table 10.6 of the 1991 edition). In neither instance is it possible to distinguish between assisted persons residing in Wales or England.

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) what is his estimate of the amount of legal aid moneys granted in magistrates courts in Wales in the years 1990-91 and 1991 -92 :

(2) what is his estimate of the amount of the legal aid budget expended in Wales for each of the last four years.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The Legal Aid Board records statistics on legal aid expenditure by reference to its area offices. Wales is served by two Legal Aid Board area offices, which are situated in Cardiff and Chester respectively. The Chester area office also serves parts of north-west England and the west midlands. It is not therefore possible to assess what proportion of legal aid expenditure, either generally or in relation to magistrates' courts, is attributable to assisted persons residing in Wales.

PRIME MINISTER

Commercial Whaling

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Prime Minister whether he discussed Norway's decision to resume commercial whaling with Mrs. Gro Harlem Brundtland ; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : I made quite clear to the Norwegian Prime Minister our views on commercial whaling. I set out the position in the Community on whaling and the trade in whale products. We would expect Norway to apply existing Community legislation should she accede to the Community.

Home Rule, Scotland

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Prime Minister when he expects to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for East Lothian dated 23 October concerning the case for subsidiary home rule for Scotland.

The Prime Minister : I will reply to the hon. Member's correspondence shortly.


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Matrix Churchill

Mr. George Robertson : To ask the Prime Minister when he was first informed that Matrix Churchill was involved in the exports of machine tools to Iraq.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 23 November 1992] : As I said in my letter to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) on 23 November, which has been placed in the Library, I first became aware of the investigation into Matrix Churchill in October 1990. Some other papers in connection with Matrix Churchill were copied to my office at the Treasury in June and July of that year. Treasury records do not indicate whether I saw those documents, but I have no recollection of doing so. A meeting of Ministers under the chairmanship of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs was held on 19 July 1990 to discuss defence sales policy to Iran and Iraq. That meeting was attended from the Treasury by my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Norfolk (Mr. Ryder). The public expenditure Cabinet was held on the same day and would have been my principal preoccupation at the time.

At the beginning of August 1990, following the invasion of Kuwait, I did see a copy of a minute about the implications of the invasion for trade with Iraq, which referred to Matrix Churchill as one company with potential exports that would need to be prevented.

SCOTLAND

Sport

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, pursuant to his answer of 16 June, Official Report, column 516, what is the division of responsibility between his Department and the Department of National Heritage in respect of sport in Scotland ; and what further decisions and changes have been made in respect of the relationship between the two departments since June.

Sir Hector Monro : While my right hon. Friend is responsible for all matters relating to sport in Scotland, the Department of National Heritage takes the lead on United Kingdom and international sports matters. My right hon. Friend is responsible also for the built heritage in Scotland, but the funding and sponsorship of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, which operates on a United Kingdom basis, is a matter for the Department of National Heritage. As with arts and broadcasting, to which my answer of 16 June 1992 referred, my right hon. Friend's responsibilities for sport and the heritage were not affected by the creation of the Department of National Heritage and none of these responsibilities has been changed subsequently. The Scottish Office continues to liaise closely with the Department of National Heritage on all matters of common interest.

Nature Reserves

Ms. Short : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what amount of public money was spent by the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland or Scottish Natural Heritage for the purchase of national nature reserves in 1991-92 ; and what is the expected spend for 1992-93.

Sir Hector Monro [holding answer 25 November 1992] : The amount spent by the Nature Conservancy Council for


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Scotland for the purchase of national nature reserves in 1991-92 was £124,275. It is estimated that the expenditure by Scottish Natural Heritage for this purpose in 1992-93 will be £62,350.

Ms. Short : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what amount of grant was made by the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland or Scottish Natural Heritage under section 38 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to voluntary conservation bodies for the purposes of land purchase in 1991-92 ; and what is the expected spend for 1992-93.

Sir Hector Monro [holding answer 25 November 1992] : The provisions of section 38 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 have been replaced in turn by section 134 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and, in respect of Scotland, section 9 of the Natural Heritage (Scotland) Act 1991. The amount spent by the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland for these purposes in 1991-92 was £106,592. It is estimated that the expenditure in 1992-93 by Scottish Natural Heritage on such grants will be £175,000.

Holyroodhouse

Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if sprinkler systems are installed throughout Holyroodhouse ; (2) if he will review fire precautions at Holyroodhouse.

Sir Hector Monro : Extensive fire precautions are in place in the Palace of Holyroodhouse which are kept under constant review and are updated from time to time. These do not include a sprinkler system. On 23 November, the chief executive of Historic Scotland, which is responsible for the fabric of Holyroodhouse, commissioned a review of the fire precautions which will take account of the Windsor castle fire.


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