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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 14 May 1993

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Magistrates (Resignations)

Mr. Byers : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many magistrates resigned for reasons other than age in each quarter since January 1988.

Mr. John M. Taylor : In the Lord Chancellor's area of responsibility, the figures for each of the quarters referred to, save for this year and the first quarter of 1992 cannot be given without disproportionate cost. Figures for the Duchy of Lancaster, where available, are shown in brackets. The number of losses for the years in the question and for the first quarter of 1992 and 1993, but excluding those justices who reached the statutory retirement age, are as follows :


                       |Number                                       

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

1988                   |659                                          

1989                   |799                                          

1990                   |794                                          

1991                   |820 (167)                                    

1992                   |First quarter 256 (40)                       

1992                   |1,034 (165)                                  

1993                   |First quarter 261 (37)                       

EDUCATION

Osteopathy

Ms Jowell : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what sources of funding are available to students who wish to pursue osteopathy courses.

Mr. Boswell : Students on designated full-time first degree and equivalent level courses in osteopathy are eligible for a mandatory award and a student loan on the terms prescribed in the relevant regulations. Other students may apply to their local education authority for a discretionary award, the availability and amount of which is for the authority to determine.

Special Needs Education

Mr. Colin Shepherd : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what consideration he is giving to the report from the National Curriculum Council : "Special Needs and the national curriculum : Opportunity and Challenge" ; if he will extend the national curriculum to take account of the recommendation of this report ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Forth : This leaflet, which the National Curriculum Council has recently sent to my right hon. Friend, summarises a wide-ranging review of issues concerning the


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relationship of pupils with special educational needs to the national curriculum. It highlights some important matters and suggests some ways forward for schools.

The national curriculum is appropriate for the great majority of children. A very small number may not be able to study across the whole of its range, or reach the levels generally appropriate to their age, and arrangements are in place to allow the modification of the curriculum as appropriate to each individual child.

In respect of exceptionally able children, there is no need for the modification of the curriculum to enable them to work at an appropriate pace and challenge, since the national curriculum sets out only a minimum entitlement, and schools are free to extend this work with individual children.

My right hon. Friend agrees with the National Curriculum Council that involvement in the national curriculum in itself means that pupils' entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum is addressed.

Conductive Education

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Education when he will publish the report by Birmingham university on the effectiveness of conductive education as practised at the Institute for Conductive Education in Birmingham ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Forth : I am pleased to be able to announce that the full report, containing a description of the methodology of the research and details of its findings, will be published today. Copies of the report are being placed in the Library of the House.

Teachers

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what are the figures for teacher numbers and vacancies for January 1993 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Patten : The annual survey of teacher numbers and vacancies shows that teacher numbers in England rose between January 1992 and January 1993, and that the vacancy rates in January 1993 were the lowest ever recorded. Vacancies have fallen to only 1,343 this year. This is good news for schools. It represents a further 30 per cent. fall in vacancies, to little more than one vacancy for every 20 schools. The fall is even more marked in mathematics, science and modern foreign languages. Provisional teacher numbers in LEA-maintained nursery, primary and secondary schools and self-governing state schools rose by 0.2 per cent. from 394,900 full- time equivalent teachers in January 1992 to 395,600. The estimated overall pupil to teacher ratio is 17.66 : 1.

I am placing fuller details of the vacancy figures in the Library.

TRANSPORT

Reclaim the Streets Campaign

Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which Ministers in his Department have received a London Transport travelcard from the Reclaim the Streets Action Campaign ; and what use each of those Ministers who received one made of the card for official journeys by (a) bus (b) tube or (c) rail in the week including 15 May.


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Mr. Norris : I and my hon. Friend the Minister for Public Transport have received London Transport travelcards from the Reclaim the Streets Action Campaign. It would not be appropriate to accept these cards. We shall therefore be returning them to the campaign organisers.

Vehicle Excise Duty

Mr. Nigel Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much revenue will be raised from vehicle excise duty in 1993.

Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : The latest forecast for the financial year 1993-94 is £3,690 million net.

Oxleas Wood

Mr. Raynsford : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when his Department expects to reply to the letters from the hon. Member for Greenwich concerning Oxleas wood, dated 13 October 1992 and 3 March 1993.

Mr. Norris : I have written today to the hon. Member to explain that I had thought it right to delay my reply until matters in the Court of Appeal and with the European Commission have been resolved.

Crossrail

Mr. Keith Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library copies of the reports commissioned from private consultants concerning the crossrail proposals.

Mr. Norris : No. The reports contain commercially sensitive information. If it is decided that crossrail should proceed as a joint venture with the private sector, a great deal of the information will be published.

Channel Tunnel

Mr. Spellar : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to be able to make an announcement as to the location of the new midlands channel tunnel terminal.

Mr. Freeman : This is a commercial matter for British Rail in co- operation with the private sector. The Government have no plans at present to make an announcement.

Buses

Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the level of pollution from diesel exhaust emissions of buses one year old up to seven years old.

Mr. Freeman : No assessment has been made which specifically addresses pollution arising from buses. However, the Department has an extensive research programme looking at control technology and other measures to reduce emissions. In the light of the results of this research, the Government will consider the need for a feasibility of establishing emission requirements for specific categories of vehicles, for example buses, operating in the urban environment.

Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is his estimate of the number of buses currently in


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operation which are not controlled by European Community legislation on account of the age of the vehicle.

Mr. Freeman : There is currently no European Community legislation relating specifically to the construction of buses, although buses are affected by a number of EC directives setting technical standards for varous aspects of motor vehicles. We have no estimate of the number of buses affected, which will depend on the precise requirements of the many directives in question, the date on which they came into effect and the manner in which they are applied in United Kingdom law.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Food Safety

Mr. Clifton-Brown : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the cost to the food industry in a full year of implementing the Food Safety Act 1990.

Mr. Soames : The Food Safety Act 1990 is an enabling piece of legislation which, of itself, does not require any additional expenditure by food businesses. The requirements that it places directly on businesses relating to food safety and consumer protection are couched in general terms, and are no more than any prudent well-run business would involve itself in as part of ensuring its good reputation with its customers. It is, therefore, not possible specifically to identify the cost to the industry of complying with the Act.

Research Strategy Documents

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many copies of his departmental reports on (a) Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food environmental research strategy and requirement document 1993-95 and (b) Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food arable crops and horticulture research strategy document 1993-95 have been printed ; at what cost ; and to whom they have been distributed.

Mr. Curry : One thousand five hundred copies of (a) the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food environmental research strategy and requirement document 1993-95 and 800 copies of (b) Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food arable crops and horticulture research strategy document 1993-95 have been printed, at a total cost of £3,880. They have been distributed to contractors and other parties known to have an interest in research and development, and publicised more widely by means of a press notice.

Milk Quotas

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make it his policy to seek the adoption in the European Community of siphoning on transfers of milk quotas so as to provide a pool of quotas for new entrants under the age of 40 years into farming in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Curry : The Government have no plans to do so. However, we shall be looking to see whether any lessons


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for milk quotas may be drawn from experience in the operation of quotas in the sheep and suckler cow sectors, where arrangements for new entrants have been proposed.

Research Expenditure

Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what cuts in expenditure in near-market strategic and basic research have been implemented since 1978 ; and if he will list the size of his Ministry's budget and the numbers of projects and


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personnel employed with respect to each of the subject areas outlined in "MAFF NR 143/91" in nominal and real terms for each year since 1978.

Mr. Gummer : Research projects are not classified routinely in the terms specified in the question. However, near-market projects, by definition, would seldom, if ever, be expected to fall into the strategic or basic research categories.

My Department's expenditure in cash and real terms on environmental R and D by subject area is set out in the table. The number of projects is shown in brackets. Individual projects differ in value.


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                                                   1991-92                             1992-93                             1993-94                                              

Subject area                                      |£ million cash   |£ million real<1>|£ million cash   |£ million real<1>|£ million cash   |£ million real<1>                  

                                                                    |terms                              |terms                              |terms                              

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

Protecting the countryside                        |1.6 (16)         |1.6              |1.7 (19)         |1.6              |1.7 (20)         |1.6                                

Farm woodland and set aside                       |2.7 (20)         |2.7              |2.7 (21)         |2.5              |2.8 (16)         |2.6                                

Protecting water supplies and rivers              |7.1 (39)         |7.1              |8.1 (61)         |7.8              |7.9 (60)         |7.4                                

                                                 |Soil protection  |1.5 (16)         |1.5              |1.4 (21)         |1.4              |1.7 (19)                           

Protecting the air                                |1.6 (15)         |1.6              |1.6 (15)         |1.5              |1.8 (17)         |1.7                                

Pest and pesticides                               |21.3(174)        |21.3             |22.2(172)        |21.5             |20.0(158)        |18.8                               

Flood and coastal defence and climate change      |3.0 (63)         |3.0              |3.7 (76)         |3.6              |4.0 (71)         |3.7                                

Marine protection                                 |3.5 (32)         |3.5              |3.6 (31)         |3.5              |3.8 (29)         |3.6                                

Genetic conservation and modification at RBG, Kew |8.7 (--)         |8.7              |10.3 (--)        |10.0             |9.1 (--)         |8.6                                

Protecting fisheries                              |4.7 (81)         |4.7              |5.1 (69)         |5.0              |5.2 (67)         |4.9                                

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

Totals                                            |55.8(456)        |55.8             |60.4(485)        |58.4             |58.0(457)        |54.5                               

<1> Using GDP deflator 1991-92=100.                                                                                                                                             

Figures for years before 1991-92 are not available in the form requested.

No information is held centrally about the number of personnel employed on each subject area.

Bovine Eyes

Mr. Roger Evans : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether bovine eyes are used in food for human consumption in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Gummer : I am aware of the suggestion that bovine eyes are used in meat products. All the main meat industry organisations have assured me that they have no evidence of any use of bovine eyes in food. Moreover, the British Meat Manufacturers Association has pointed out that under its accredited standard scheme eyes are totally banned from use in meat preparations and meat products by their members.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Ireland Electricity

Mr. David Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he has any plans to privatise the Northern Ireland electricity service ; what estimate of asset proceeds he has made ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : The first phase of the privatisation of the electricity supply industry in Northern Ireland--the trade sale of the four existing power stations to three private sector companies--was completed in March 1992. The


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second phase--the floatation of Northern Ireland Electricity plc on the stock exchange--is due to take place in June 1993. The sale of the four power stations realised some £350 million. It is too early to provide an estimate of proceeds from the floatation of NIE plc, details of which will be announced in due course.

Fishing Permits

Mr. Beggs : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will introduce a concessionary rate game fishing permit for pensioners for Northern Ireland at the same level as is applicable in Great Britain.

Mr. Hanley : No. The legislation which governs angling licensing in Northern Ireland does not provide the flexibility to issue licences at concessionary rates except, in limited circumstances, to outside visitors.

PRIME MINISTER

Nuclear Tests

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Prime Minister when he now expects the report by the National Radiological Protection Board into the effects of radiation on veterans of British nuclear tests to be published ; how this relates to the orginal envisaged publication date ; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : The National Radiological Protection Board anticipates that a report will be sent for


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peer review to a recognised scientific journal in the late summer or early autumn of 1993, with a view to publication as soon as possible thereafter later in the year.

Delays have been caused by changes in scope made by the National Radiological Protection Board to update their final report. These changes include the incorporation of all deaths of participants up to 1 January 1991 rather than 1 January 1989 as originally envisaged and of a detailed case study into the effects of emigration and a more complete check of mortality and cause of death.

The Government are not aware of any evidence which would change the conclusions of the National Radiological Protection Board report published in 1988 that the overall incidence of cancer among nuclear test participants is no greater than that among the population as a whole.

Child Migrant Trust

Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister when he received the letter of 4 May from Nottinghamshire county council regarding the Child Migrant Trust ; what reply he has sent ; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : The letter was received on 6 May and was acknowledged.

Ms Beata Brookes

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Prime Minister what reference he has made to the public appointments unit in relation to the appointment of Ms Beata Brookes as chairman of the Welsh Consumer Council in 1991 ; what account he has taken of whether the chairman of the Wales area of the Conservative and Unionist party carries out executive duties ; and how his policy on such appointments has changed since his answer of 28 November 1991, Official Report , column 608 .

The Prime Minister : The public appointments unit is consulted in seeking nominations for all appointments to public boards, including the chairmanship of the Welsh Consumer Council, as are a number of other bodies. As chairwoman of the Wales area of the Conservative and Unionist party, Miss Brookes is not an officer carrying out executive duties in the party. Her role does not, therefore, conflict with the long-standing and now publicly available guidelines for members of public boards on political activities. This is in line with the answer I gave on 28 November at column 608 .

NATIONAL FINANCE

Allivane International

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 19 May 1992, Official Report, column 77, whether Customs and Excise has decided upon prosecution against Allivane International.

Sir John Cope : No prosecution has been commenced against Allivane International.

Indirect Taxation

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much the retail prices index is expected to rise as a result of the increase in indirect taxes in the


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current Budget ; and if he will disregard the effect of that increase on the rate of inflation in formulating his economic policies.

Mr. Portillo : The Budget measures add per cent. to the RPI excluding mortgage interest payments in 1993 compared with the autumn statement forecast, and a further per cent. by the second quarter of 1994.

The Government's objective is to keep underlying inflation within a range of 1 to 4 per cent., and to bring it down to the lower part of this range by the end of this Parliament ; monetary policy will be set to achieve this.

Inheritance Tax

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward legislation to extend 100 per cent. of inheritance tax relief in respect of farms which are let.

Mr. Dorrell : No.

Interest Rates

Mr. Nigel Evans : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the current base rate in each EC member state.

Mr. Nelson : Short-term market interest rates in each European Community country were as follows on 12 May :


               |Interest rates               

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

United Kingdom |5.8                          

Germany        |7.4                          

France         |7.8                          

Italy          |11.0                         

Spain          |15.4                         

Netherlands    |7.5                          

Belgium        |7.2                          

Denmark        |10.9                         

Greece         |23.0                         

Portugal       |18.0                         

Ireland        |8.1                          

Inflation

Mr. Nigel Evans : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the current rate of inflation in each EC member state.

Mr. Nelson : Data for inflation rates in each European Community country are published in the OECD's main economic indicators. The latest figures show that only Denmark of the European Community countries has a lower headline inflation rate than the United Kingdom.

Gilts

Mr. Burns : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about information on gilts and the gilt-edged market.

Mr. Nelson : The Bank of England will be issuing on 17 May a new guide providing information for institutional investors about gilts and the operation of the gilt-edged market.

The costs of producing the booklet will fall to the Treasury's 1993-94 vote --class XVII, vote 1. parliamentary approval for this new expenditure will be sought in a


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summer supplementary estimate. The resulting increase in the Treasury's cash limit and gross running costs limit will be fully offset by a reduction in the Bank of England's cash limit and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Ministerial Cars

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer to the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), of 26 February, Official Report, column 764, whether the rules regarding the provision of car benefits are in practice implemented for Ministers in exactly the same way as the Inland Revenue expects them to be implemented for employees in general.

Mr. Dorrell [holding answer 13 May 1993] : The same rules apply to Ministers as to other employees, and the Inland Revenue seeks to apply the law even-handedly to Ministers and to others.

Exchange Rate Mechanism

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the percentage increase for each of the 10 commodities whose prices have increased the most on the commodities markets since the pound left the exchange rate mechanism.

Mr. Nelson [holding answer 10 May 1993] : Of the 30 main commodities that make up The Economist all-items commodity price index, the 10 that have increased in price the most since the 15 September 1992 are shown in the table.


Commodity price rises: 15 September   

1992 to 5 May 1993                    

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

Timber        |90.1 |93.0 |126.9      

Sisal         |24.8 |26.7 |48.9       

Sugar         |22.3 |24.2 |46.0       

Groundnut oil |17.9 |19.7 |40.7       

Coffee        |16.1 |17.9 |38.6       

Beef          |13.6 |15.4 |35.6       

Soyabean meal |8.4  |10.1 |29.4       

Lamb          |7.9  |9.6  |28.8       

Soyabean oil  |6.2  |7.8  |26.7       

Cotton        |5.3  |6.9  |25.7       

                                      

  All-items   |1.1  |4.1  |21.9       

Source: The Economist                 

Company Cars

Mr. Beith : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what benefits-in- kind an employer should report on the form P11D in respect of an employee who is driven from home to his normal place of employment in a chauffeur- driven car provided by his employer.

Mr. Dorrell [holding answer 12 May 1993] : If the car is a pooled car and the journeys are merely incidental to the business use of the car, the employer should make no return.

In other circumstances, the employer should return on form P11D the benefit of the car and the costs of the chauffeur.

Whether or not an employee's private use of a car is incidental to its business use will depend on the facts of


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each particular case. If employers or employees are in any doubt about the correct treatment, they should consult their tax office.

European Community (Convergence)

Mr. Spearing : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what requests he has received from institutions of the European Community for a report on their programme for attaining convergence within the economies of the Community ; what reply has been sent ; and if he will place a copy in the Library.

Mr. Nelson [pursuant to his reply, 30 March 1993, c. 147] : The United Kingdom has today submitted a convergence programme. A copy of this programme is being placed in the Library of the House.

NATIONAL HERITAGE

Ministerial Cars

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if Ministers in his Department are ordinarily allocated their own ministerial car.

Mr. Brooke [holding answer 13 May 1993] : Ministers are provided with first-call cars from the Government car service pool.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL

Hosni E. Farhat

Mr. Bennett : To ask the Attorney-General what representations he has received regarding the implications for administrative routines within the Law Officers Department of the case of Hosni E. Farhat.

The Attorney-General : None.

Mr. Bennett : To ask the Attorney-General what information he has on contacts between prosecution witnesses in the case of Hosni E. Farhat and Ahmed Gaddafi Aidain of Libya ; and if he will make a statement.

The Attorney-General : None.

Unemployment Benefit (Appeals)

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Attorney-General how many appeals relating to unemployment benefit were heard by social security appeals tribunals in 1992 ; and in how many cases the appeal succeeded wholly or in part.

Mr. Burt [holding answer 11 May 1993] : I have been asked to reply.

Information is not available in the form requested. The latest information, which covers the first nine months of 1992, indicates that 12,327 unemployment benefit appeals were heard and decided of which 5,310 were decided in the appellant's favour.

HEALTH

Regional Health Authorities (Consultancy Companies)

Mr. Kevin Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to recover inappropriate loans and illegal payments to consultancy companies and related businesses employed by regional health authorities.


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