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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 5 November 1993

PRIME MINISTER

UNESCO

Dr. Spink : To ask the Prime Minister what representations he has received in the past three months regarding United Kingdom membership of UNESCO ; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : Since the beginning of August, I have received representations from a member of the House of Lords, four Members of Parliament, the Honourable Hector Wynter of the Caribbean Democratic Union, plus a petition with 99 signatures from the Deal branch of the United Nations Association. All have called for the United Kingdom to resume membership of UNESCO.

European Council

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral statement on the special meeting of the European Council, Official Report, 1 November, Official Report, column 20, whether the new transparency measures for operation of the Council will include agreement to make public petitions submitted by European citizens to the Council.

The Prime Minister : There are no formal procedures for petitioning the Council. Letters addressed to the Council by members of the public are passed to the presidency by the Council Secretariat for appropriate action. Article 138d of the Maastricht treaty establishes a right of petition to the European Parliament. It is for the Parliament to decide whether such petitions should be made public.

Cyprus

Mr. Cox : To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he is to have with the Turkish Government on the question of illegal settlers entering northern Cyprus from mainland Turkey following the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government communique on this issue ; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting communique covered a number of aspects of the Cyprus dispute, including the question of settlers from Turkey, and called for the implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. We take every suitable opportunity to reiterate to the Turkish Government the need for all parties involved to adopt a constructive attitude.

Professor R. V. Jones

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister what representations he has had from General Doyle Larson of the Central Intelligence Agency in relation to Professor R. V. Jones.


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The Prime Minister : I have received no such representations regarding Professor R. V. Jones, though I welcome the decision by the Central Intelligence Agency to recognise his outstanding achievement in the field of scientific intelligence.

Joint Intelligence Committee

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the dates on which the Joint Intelligence Committee met (a) between 31 May 1989 and 1 August 1990 and (b) between 1 November 1991 and 1 April 1992.

The Prime Minister : I refer the hon. Member to the booklet on the "Central Intelligence Machinery" published by HMSO on 1 October, which states that the Joint Intelligence Committee is responsible for producing a weekly survey on intelligence. The committee meets each week for this purpose. It did so throughout the periods cited except for two weeks during each of the Christmas-new year breaks at the end of 1990 and 1991. I do not propose to list all these meetings individually.

Mr. Mohammed Hashemi

Mr. Byers : To asks the Prime Minister on how many occasions since December 1990 Mr. Mohammed Hashemi has attended functions or meetings at 10 Downing street.

The Prime Minister : As far as I am aware, Mr. Mohammed Hashemi has not attended any functions or meetings at 10 Downing street since December 1990.

Conservative Party Conference

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe, (Mr. Betts) of 18 November, Official Report, column 57, what factual briefing was provided by civil servants for his speech to the Conservative and Unionist party conference in Blackpool.

The Prime Minister : In preparing for this speech, I drew on factual information already available in my office, and on other sources.

House of Lords

Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister if he will now bring forward proposals to reform the Second Chamber.

The Prime Minister : No.

Official Secrets Act

Mr. Allason : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 2 November, Official Report , columns 90-91 , what permission is required under section 1(1) of the Official Secrets Act 1989 for former officials to publish memoirs ; on what dates that permission was applied for by (a) Mr. Desmond Bristow and (b) Mr. Brian Crozier ; and what rights have been reserved by the Crown with regard to legal action in each case.

The Prime Minister : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will shortly be writing in response to the hon. Member's letter of 26 October to the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs about Mr. Bristow and Mr. Crozier. That reply will take into account the points now raised.


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Telephone Sex Lines

Dr. Spink : To ask the Prime Minister what action he is taking to discipline those who use Whitehall telephones to make 0898 sex line calls at public expense ; and what action has been taken to stop these calls.

The Prime Minister : Unauthorised use of official telephones is a disciplinary matter which is dealt with under normal departmental disciplinary arrangements. These disciplinary arrangements are set out in the "Civil Service Management Code--Rules of Code and Practice."

Central guidance recommends that Departments take action to bar outgoing calls to certain destinations, including recorded information line numbers. Call barring and call logging have already been implemented on many Government exchanges. Central guidance on these matters will be strongly reinforced in the light of the recent National Audit Office report on the management of telephone services.

Prime Minister's Office

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister how many staff were employed in his Prime Ministerial offices, and in what categories of work, in 1989-90 and at the latest available date.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 1 November 1993] : The information is as follows :


                                                                            |1989   |1993           

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

Private Secretaries, Appointments and Honours                               |19     |21             

Policy Unit                                                                 |10     |13             

Press Office                                                                |8      |10             

Filing, Records, Correspondence and support staff not included in the above |31     |37             

Messengerial support grades                                                 |N/a    |<1>26          

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

Total                                                                       |68     |<1>107         

N/a Not available.                                                                                  

<1> As a result of delegated budgetary arrangements, 26 support grade staff who were on the Cabinet 

Office central budget in 1989 have been transferred to the No. 10 budget and manpower count.        

Press Office

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister how many people were employed in the No. 10 press office in 1979, 1989 and the latest available date.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 1 November 1993] : Including secretarial/typing support, the figures are :


        |Numbers        

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

1979    |8              

1989    |8              

1993    |10             

Government Car Service

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Prime Minister what changes took place in the allocation of charges to his office by the Government car service in 1984-85 ; and what is the latest annual cost.


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The Prime Minister [holding answer 1 November 1993] : In 1984 -85 arrangements were introduced for charging my office direct, in common with all other users, for the use of the Government car service. Previous to this, the cost of this service was met from central funds. The charge to my office for the use of the Government car service in 1992-93 was £469,747.

ENVIRONMENT

Correspondence

Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will reply to the letter dated 17 August from Mr. D. Whittaker of 30 Wilkinson road, Astley Bridge, Bolton, concerning the drainage of water from Sweetloves reservoir, Bolton ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Baldry : I regret to say that Mr. Whittaker's letter was not received. We have, however, obtained a copy of the letter from Bolton borough council to which he had also written. A reply was sent to him on 4 November 1993.

Housing Management

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will announce the timetable for implementation of compulsory competitive tendering in local authority housing management ; and if he will make a statement.

Sir George Young : I expect to make an announcement shortly.

Housing (Investment)

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been (a) the gross and (b) the net public investment in (i) local authority housing, (ii) housing associations and (iii) private sector housing in real terms in each year since 1979.

Sir George Young : I will write to the hon. Member.

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been (a) the gross and (b) the net public investment in housing as a proportion of gross domestic product for each year since 1979.

Sir George Young : The requested figures are not available. Reliable outturn information on public investment in housing is available only on a financial year basis, whereas estimates of gross domestic product in England are available only for calendar years.

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been (a) the gross public and (b) the net investment in housing in real terms at 1993 prices in each year since 1979.

Sir George Young : The available information is as follows :


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Public investment in housing<1>, England, 1979-80 to 1992-93 (£ million)                                             

                            Gross capital                       Net expenditure                                      

                            expenditure                                                                              

                           |Cash             |1993-94 prices<2>|Cash             |1993-94 prices<2>                  

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

1979-80                    |3,508            |8,623            |2,681            |6,591                              

1980-81                    |3,403            |7,069            |2,330            |4,840                              

1981-82                    |3,271            |6,196            |1,517            |2,874                              

1982-83                    |4,065            |7,189            |1,436            |2,539                              

1983-84                    |4,405            |7,445            |2,054            |3,472                              

1984-85                    |4,286            |6,894            |2,169            |3,489                              

1985-86                    |3,794            |5,786            |1,790            |2,730                              

1986-87                    |3,775            |5,578            |1,513            |2,236                              

1987-88                    |4,077            |5,710            |1,444            |2,022                              

1988-89                    |4,444            |5,802            |654              |854                                

1989-90                    |6,103            |7,477            |2,449            |3,001                              

                                                                                                                     

New capital finance system                                                                                           

1990-91                    |4,261            |4,833            |1,678            |1,903                              

1991-92                    |4,466            |4,749            |2,653            |2,821                              

1992-93<3>                 |5,079            |5,218            |3,596            |3,695                              

<1> Capital housing expenditure by local authorities, New Towns, the Housing Corporation and other DoE funded        

schemes.                                                                                                             

<2> Cash figures converted to 1993-94 price levels by excluding the effect of general inflation as measured by the   

GDP market prices deflator.                                                                                          

<3> Provisional.                                                                                                     

In addition, since 1989 some £2 billion of private finance has been levered in to support the Housing Corporation's programme.

Mr. Straw : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish a table showing the amount and source of public investment in housing in England, for each financial year since 1978, in cash, constant prices and on an index where 1978 equals 100.

Mr. Gummer [holding answer 3 November 1993] : I will write to the hon. Member.

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what his timetable is for responding to the 1994-95 housing investment programme bids by local authorities ; and if he will make a statement.

Sir George Young : I expect to announce local authorities' 1994-95 housing investment programme allocations in December.

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what will the deadlines be in 1994 for submission by local authorities of (a) housing investment programme bids and (b) housing strategy documents.

Sir George Young : Decisions on these matters will be taken after the current housing investment programme round is complete.

Rents

Ms Coffey : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the impact of the decrease of grants on the average level of housing association rents.

Sir George Young : Evidence on a range of issues, including the likely impact on the affordability of rents and on the availability of private finance, was fully considered before a decision was taken on the average grant rate for 1994-95.

The Housing Corporation's assessment of the grant rate model for 1994-95 showed that, because of reductions in procurement and borrowing costs, the affordability of modelled rents could be held constant at a lower average


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grant rate than the current 67 per cent. Furthermore, because of the scope for rent pooling and efficiency savings, evidence suggested that actual rents would be lower than those suggested by the model. It is, however, for housing associations to set their own rents at levels which are affordable to those on low incomes, as required by the tenants guarantee. The excellent response to the 1994-95 bidding round suggests that associations are confident of their ability to undertake schemes at affordable rents within the grant rates available.

Ms Coffey : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the operation of rent assessment committees in assessing the market rent for housing association property.

Sir George Young : Under section 13 of the Housing Act 1988, assured tenants of registered housing associations have the right in certain circumstances, to refer their rent to a rent assessment committee for the determination of a market rent.

Rent assessment committees carry out this function under section 14 of the Act which requires them to consider what level of rent the landlord could reasonably expect for the property, if it were let on the open market under an assured tenancy.

Ms Estelle Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what advice or representations he has received concerning the capacity of housing associations to pool rents ; and if he will make a statement.

Sir George Young : The Housing Corporation has advised that, across the whole programme, housing associations continue to have further capacity to pool rents ; the position for individual associations may, of course, vary.

Right to Manage Scheme

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many consultation meetings he has held to date with local authorities on his Department's right to manage scheme ; and how many he plans to hold.

Sir George Young : Since it was first announced in June 1992, preparations for the new right to manage have been


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informed throughout by the views of local authorities and tenants' organisations. Views obtained by means of consultation papers have been augmented by discussions between officials and local authorities at seminars on the right to manage funded by the Department and organised by tenant training agencies. Officials have separately met a range of interested groups, including local authority officers, to discuss the Department's preparations for the right to manage in greater detail. In addition, local authorities and their associations are involved in a series of advisory groups set up to inform the preparation of detailed guidance. A meeting with local authority associations is planned for 11 November, and further meetings with authorities and the associations will be held as necessary.

Local Government Review

Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the suggested opting-in procedure under the local government review.

Mr. Baldry : In considering the best way forward for the Local Government Commission's reviews, we looked carefully at all the options that were before us, including procedures for opting-in. We concluded, however, that all shire areas should have the opportunity to secure the benefits which we believe unitary authorities can offer.

My right hon. Friend therefore announced on 30 September that all the shire counties in England would be reviewed by the commission by about the end of 1994.

Urban Regeneration Agency

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the intended establishment of the urban renewal agency ; where are the intended regional sites where it will be based ; and where the administrative core will be based.

Mr. Baldry : The urban regeneration agency will be launched later this month. At that point it will take over from my Department responsibility for the city grant programme and will have a staff complement of 20. From April 1994, it will incorporate the derelict land grant programme, also now run by my Department, and the programmes of English Estates. It will be for the agency to assess the staff resources it will need to deliver these programmes. The agency will have a strong regional structure and a headquarters outside London. The locations of the regional offices and the headquarters have yet to be decided.

Council Housing Stock

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 1 November to the hon. Member for Bolton, North- East (Mr. Thurnham), Official Report, column 3, about the transfer of council housing stock to registered housing associations, how much was spent (a) by each authority listed in preparing the transfer and (b) by local authorities where tenants have voted against transfer.

Sir George Young : Set up costs for the housing associations involved in the 23 transfers that have taken place so far have been met by grants from the local authorities as follows :


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                          |£ million          

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

Breckland DC              |2.50               

Broadland DC              |1.80               

London Borough of Bromley |5.80               

Chiltern DC               |1.11               

Christchurch DC           |1.14               

East Cambridgeshire DC    |2.20               

East Dorset DC            |1.20               

Hambleton DC              |1.80               

Medina DC                 |1.40               

Mid Sussex DC             |2.30               

Newbury DC                |1.40               

North Bedfordshire DC     |3.05               

Rochester upon Medway DC  |4.50               

Ryedale DC                |1.57               

Sevenoaks DC              |1.75               

South Buckinghamshire DC  |1.46               

South Wight DC            |1.20               

Suffolk Coastal DC        |2.05               

Surrey Heath DC           |1.70               

Swale DC                  |1.57               

Tonbridge and Malling DC  |2.24               

Tunbridge Wells DC        |2.80               

West Dorset DC            |1.80               

These grants cover reasonable staff costs, consultancy fees for the legal, financial and other work involved and costs relating to tenant consultation. They do not cover costs which should be incurred by the purchaser post-transfer such as the provision of long-term office accommodation.

We have no comparable information on local authorities' own costs.

Estate Action

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) when the next allocation of estate action scheme resources will be available ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) what resources have been made available in each region on an annual basis since the introduction of the estate action scheme.

Sir George Young : I will write to the hon. Member.

New Age Travellers

Mr. Aspinwall : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if, following the High Court decision that travellers did not come within the legal definition of gipsy, in the case of new age travellers seeking to compel Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Devon county councils to provide them with camp sites, he will now withdraw directions to Avon county council to provide sites for gipsies ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Baldry : The question of gipsy status under the Caravan Sites Act 1968 is a matter of fact and degree to be determined by local authorities whom the Act requires to provide accommodation for gipsies. I have no doubt that authorities will study closely the recent judgment of the High Court about the status of travellers stationed on unauthorised sites in Devon, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire.

A count undertaken on 21 July 1993 found 332 gipsy caravans stationed on unauthorised sites in the county of Avon. My right hon. Friend has no plans to withdraw the direction to provide sites which his predecessor gave to Avon county council on 13 October 1990.


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Teenage Mothers

Ms Glenda Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many lone teenage mothers have been housed in the last 12 months by (a) local authorities and (b) housing associations.

Sir George Young : I will write to the hon. Member.

Capital Receipts

Mr. Betts : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the latest estimate of capital receipts which local authorities will spend as a result of the temporary relaxation in the November statement of 1992 ; and what was the forecast made at the time.

Mr. Baldry : Recent information provided by most local authorities in England indicates that authorities expect to obtain around £2.3 billion of usable capital receipts during the period of relaxation--13 November 1992 to 31 December 1993--of which about £1.3 billion


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represents extra spending power arising from the relaxation. It is for the local authorities to decide the spending of their usable capital receipts. At the time of the autumn statement last November, the extra spending powers arising from the relaxation was estimated at around £1.75 billion, based on an extrapolation of authorities' own forecasts of their capital receipts in 1992-93.

Council House Sales

Mr. Milburn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 26 April, 1993 Official Report, column 326, if he will update the table on council house sales and values for the latest available quarters.

Sir George Young : The latest available information, which is for the period January to March 1993, is given in the table. The table also provides updates of the figures given in the reply of 26 April for the preceding three quarters.


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Number of council house sales and value by region (£000)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                April to June                                               July to September                                           October to                                                  January to March                                                               

                                1992<1>                                                     1992<1>                                                     December 1992<1>                                            1993<1>                                                                        

                               |Number of sales    |Undiscounted value |Value (1981 prices)|Number of sales    |Undiscounted value |Value (1981 prices)|Number of sales    |Undiscounted value |Value (1981 prices)|Number of sales    |Undiscounted value |Value 1981 (prices)                    

                                                   |of sales                                                   |of sales                                                   |of sales                                                   |of sales                                                   

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

DOE Regions                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

North (excluding Cumbria)      |1,057              |30,258             |16,255             |1,235              |33,573             |17,666             |1,075              |28,453             |15,037             |846                |25,367             |13,246                                 

Yorkshire and Humberside       |976                |32,719             |17,577             |1,079              |36,832             |19,600             |780                |26,423             |13,964             |801                |26,128             |13,644                                 

East Midlands                  |686                |24,428             |13,123             |845                |29,208             |15,543             |770                |28,046             |14,822             |572                |20,228             |10,563                                 

Eastern                        |1,198              |57,597             |30,943             |1,564              |76,773             |40,855             |1,235              |54,762             |28,941             |1,134              |50,688             |26,468                                 

London Boroughs                |2,194              |128,681            |69,131             |2,611              |160,995            |85,674             |1,835              |103,619            |54,761             |1,536              |86,683             |45,264                                 

South East                     |1,043              |52,798             |26,364             |1,418              |72,157             |38,399             |1,018              |52,299             |27,639             |1,186              |44,968             |23,481                                 

South West                     |713                |30,332             |16,295             |941                |40,266             |21,428             |784                |33,881             |17,906             |736                |30,016             |15,674                                 

West Midlands                  |1,064              |40,134             |21,561             |1,104              |41,452             |22,059             |958                |36,216             |19,140             |971                |32,929             |17,195                                 

North West (including Cumbria) |1,273              |40,066             |21,524             |1,312              |38,791             |20,643             |1,073              |35,677             |18,855             |1,148              |33,749             |17,623                                 

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

England                        |10,204             |437,013            |234,775            |12,109             |530,047            |282,066            |9,528              |399,376            |211,066            |8,930              |350,756            |183,158                                

<1> Provisional.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Public Toilets

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many functioning public toilets each local authority operates at the present time (a) in total and (b) per 1,000 of the population.

Mr. Baldry : This information is not available.

Gipsies

Mr. Aspinwall : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many gipsies are currently resident in the county of Avon.

Mr. Baldry : My Department carries out a biannual count of gipsy caravans on the basis of information provided by district and borough councils. The latest count, on 21 July 1993, found 406 caravans with gipsies residing in or resorting to the county of Avon on that day.

Public Expenditure, London

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the public expenditure provision for each London borough for (a) estate action, (b) urban programme, (c) city challenge, (d) direct land grant, (e) city action teams, (f) the development corporation, (g) inner city task forces and (h) housing


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action trusts for each year since 1979 for which figures are available ; and how much city grant has been spent in each of the London boroughs in each year since 1979 for which figures are available.

Mr. Curry : I will write to the hon. Member.

Telecommunications Masts

Mr. Roger Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what recent representations he has received regarding the visual effect on the countryside of the erection of 15 m masts as a result of amendment 6 of the General Development Order ;

(2) how many telecommunications masts have been erected without planning permission as a result of amendment 6 of the General Development Order.

Mr. Baldry : I will write to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Rathbone : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many telecommunication masts of (a) up to 15 m in height and (b) over 15 m in height have been erected in (i) areas of outstanding natural beauty, (ii) environmentally sensitive areas and (c) other areas in England ;

(2) how many permissions have been granted on appeal to him for erection of telecommunication masts of over


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15 m in height in England in areas of outstanding natural beauty, in environmentally sensitive areas and in other areas in England ; (3) how many local district authorities have included in their approved development plans specific policies for the siting of telecommunication masts in their area ; how many have not ; and how many are awaiting approval of such plans ;

(4) what encouragement the Government are giving for the erection of telecommunication masts under 15 m in height rather than those of greater height ;


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