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Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will place in the Library a copy of the quality status report of the North sea, prepared for the signatory states to the convention on the prevention of pollution to the North sea.
Column 537I attended last week. However, there is still some final editing to be done before the document is published in February 1994. Copies will be placed in the Library as soon as the final version is available.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the matters discussed and decisions taken at the ministerial meeting reviewing the convention protecting the North sea against pollution, held in Copenhagen on 7 and 8 December.
Mr. Yeo [holding answer 9 December 1993] : The third North sea conference in 1990 decided that there should be an interim meeting of Ministers to review progress on specific questions considered at that conference. This was the meeting that took place in Copenhagen on 7 and 8 December. Ministers or other representatives from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the European Commission took part. My noble Friend Earl Howe and I represented the United Kingdom. A number of intergovernmental and international non-governmental organisations were also present.
The first task of the meeting was to review the report on the quality status of the North sea, which is taken to include the English channel, recently completed by the North sea task force. The Ministers congratulated the North sea task force on the successful completion of the report. We agreed to refer the recommendations in the quality status report to appropriate bodies for further consideration, but identified some areas for immediate
attention--including the impact of fisheries, further controls on tributyl tin, reduction of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon inputs and a review of the strategy for achieving the goals set by the 1990 conference for inputs of toxic, persistent and bioaccumulative substances.
The second topic was the impact of shipping. We welcomed the achievement through the International Maritime Organisation--IMO--on the initiative of the North sea states, of stricter standards worldwide for oil discharges from shipping, the work under way in the IMO on chemical discharges and the action being taken by the EC Transport and Environment Councils to improve the protection of the seas against maritime pollution. Further action was agreed on shore reception facilities, enforcement and air pollution from ships. On the initiative of the United Kingdom, the Ministers decided on joint efforts to achieve early agreement within the International Maritime Organisation to a convention on liability and compensation for damage caused by accidents involving ships carrying hazardous or noxious cargoes, and to review the question at the 1995 North sea conference in order to find other solutions if progress in the IMO is insufficient.
The third topic was the input of nutrients to the North sea. The 1990 conference had called for a 50 per cent. reduction by 1995 in inputs of nutrients to areas where they were likely, directly or indirectly, to cause pollution. In the case of the United Kingdom, however, only a few estuaries in United Kingdom waters are under investigation as possible problem areas. Inputs from the continent, on the other hand, affect substantial problem areas along much of the continental coast. The meeting noted that the reductions in nitrate inputs to these problem areas by 1995 were, in general, unlikely to be achieved, mainly because of the difficulties of achieving sufficient reduction in agricultural inputs. Ministers therefore agreed on the need for the countries concerned to implement, or improve their
Column 538implementation, of all the necessary measures. One promising approach was the application of the concept of balanced fertilisation. Agreement was reached on work to define this and related concepts. It proved impossible, however, to reach agreement on the form of a commitment to their application. The United Kingdom and France considered that it was premature to set a fixed date for achieving balanced fertilisation before the concept was defined and it was clear what was involved.
The final topic was the effects of pesticides on the North sea. The meeting concluded that much progress had been made towards the targets for the reduction of pesticide inputs set in 1990, but that for eight substances this progress was insufficient and further efforts were required. On the initiative of the United Kingdom, Ministers confirmed that measures had to address non-agricultural, as well as agricultural, uses of pesticides. The meeting also stressed the need to address all uses of pesticides causing environmental harm and to promote environmentally friendly approaches to agricultural production ; steps were agreed to take all this forward.
A copy of the statement of conclusions adopted by the Ministers will be placed in the Library.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what measures he is taking to encourage local government groups to convert unrentable city centre office space into housing ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir George Young [holding answer 13 December 1993] : We aim to encourage the reuse of vacant office buildings for housing and to be flexible in the application of planning policies and standards. Our planning policy guidance note 3 and the draft explanatory note on affordable housing recommend that local authorities view such applications sympathetically.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what measures he is taking to further reduce sulphur dioxide emissions from United Kingdom power stations ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Yeo [holding answer 13 December 1993] : In December 1990, the Government published the United Kingdom's programme and national plan for reducing emissions of sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen from existing large combustion plants, including power stations. Under that national plan the United Kingdom is committed to reducting sulphur dioxide emissions from existing power stations by 60 per cent. by 2003 compared with 1980 levels. A copy of the plan is available in the Library of the House. Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution is currently agreeing new authorisations with the generators, in accordance with the requirement of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for best available technology not entailing excessive costs to be applied to emissions from all power plant.
Dr. Goodson-Wickes : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what savings have been achieved in the management of magistrates courts since the publication of the magistrates courts report of January 1989.
Mr. John M. Taylor : Spending on the magistrates courts service has increased every year since 1989. Neither the Government nor the service accepted the recommendation of the 1989 scrutiny of the administration of the magistrates courts that they be run as a national agency. However, the Government accepted that reform was needed and published their own proposals in the White Paper "A New Framework for Local Justice" in February 1992. Our objectives are to provide clearer lines of accountability, to secure maximum management co-operation with other parts of the justice system and to guarantee the judicial independence of magistrates and their legal advisers, as well as to yield improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of the service. The level of savings made will largely depend on the decisions taken by local management on the way they implement the changes.
Dr. Goodson-Wickes : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what estimated savings on magistrates courts services in London will result from the decision announced in the White Paper "A New Framework for Local Justice".
Mr. John M. Taylor : The purpose of the proposals in the White Paper, including any reorganisation of the service in London, is to provide clearer lines of accountability, to secure maximum management co-operation with other parts of the justice system and to guarantee the judicial independence of magistrates and their legal advisers, as well as to yield improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of the service. As the efficiency gains which each magistrates courts committee--MCC--achieves by implementing the White Paper reforms will depend largely on decisions taken at local level, it is difficult for the Government to estimate with any accuracy the total savings to be made. However, evidence from those MCCs that have already implemented some of the White Paper's proposals suggest that, within each MCC, the resulting improvements in value for money exceed the transitional costs.
Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people were employed in manufacturing industries in the Greater London area on 1 November 1979 and 1 November 1993 ; and if he will make a statement.
% Employees in manufacturing: Greater London (unadjusted) ------------------------------------- September 1981 |681,000<1> September 1993 |338,000<2> <1>Employment estimates are not available for Greater London as a separate standard region prior to September 1981. <2>Latest information available.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : All fireworks that are imported into Britain are required to comply with the tests set out in British Standard 7114 on firework safety. Additionally, fireworks containing certain compositions : for example, sulphur/chlorate admixtures are prohibited under the Explosives Act 1875.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : No country has been banned from supplying fireworks to Britain. Refusals are not aimed at specific countries but at products, or batches of products, that fail to meet the British Standard 7114 standard or equivalent standard. The onus is on the importer to ensure that the requirements are met. The Health and Safety Executive is not automatically informed of rejected products and, therefore, comprehensive figures are not available.
Mrs. Bridget Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment which countries are the major exporters of fireworks to Britain ; what proportion of fireworks sold in Britain were manufactured abroad for each year since 1990 ; if fireworks that have been manufactured abroad have to meet British safety standards ; and which countries which export fireworks to Britain have domestic safety standards which do not meet the safety standards for British manufactured fireworks.
Mr. Michal Forsyth : On the first and the second points raised, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 6 December, at column 39 , and also to the letter sent to her on 9 December by my hon. Friend the Minister for Trade and Technology. All fireworks which are imported into Great Britain have to meet the British Standard 7114 or equivalent standard. We do not have detailed information on the domestic safety standards for fireworks manufactured outside Britain.
Mr. Byers : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people are presently in employment due to the business start-up scheme ; and of these how many places have been taken up since 16 March.
Miss Widdecombe : On 15 August 1993, there were 34,900 participants on the business start-up scheme in Great Britian. Over the period 28 March 1993 to 15 August 1993, 15,600 people started on the scheme.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : Under the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 1992, all existing fixed and mobile offshore installations operating on the United Kingdom continental shelf were required to submit a safety case to the Health and Safety Executive by 30 November. As at 1 December, all the expected 215 safety cases had been received ; 214 arrived on or before 30 November ; one was delayed in transit from Norway.
The number of installations originally expected to be covered was 221 ; however, some of the safety cases received cover more than one installation ; for example, unmanned installations linked to another central installation.
One mobile installation was not expected to submit a safety case because it was due to leave the United Kingdom continental shelf before 30 November. Its departure has been slightly delayed because of operating requirements but it will be leaving shortly. It is not being asked to submit a safety case.
Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has to set up within the Welsh Office a separate department dedicated to heritage provision, including both human and natural heritage ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : The need for continuing care provision is established, arranged and monitored through the local strategies for health and health plans prepared by health authorities, the social care plans prepared by local authorities and, through the Welsh strategies for the mentally handicapped and the mentally ill.
Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will issue more detailed guidance to health authorities on future standards of continuing care and respite care for people with dementia.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : Guidance has been issued to health authorities in the form of the "Protocol for Investment in Health Gain : Mental Health, the Health and Social Gain for Older People" publication and the Welsh strategy for mental illness. I have no proposals to issue further guidance to health authorities at present.
All health authorities in Wales provide continuing care beds for this group with the exception of Pembrokeshire health authority which uses patient beds provided by other agencies within Dyfed. It is for each health authority to make appropriate provision in line with its own assessment of local need.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : The latest available hospital waiting lists are for 31 March 1993, when the waiting lists for all surgical specialties at Ysbyty Gwynedd were 2,286 for in-patient treatment and 460 for day cases.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : No. There are fewer than 100 cases outstanding at employing authority level ; some 1,100 at the Welsh appeals committee level ; and 228 cases at the national level. I am optimistic that recent discussions between both sides of the Nursing and Midwifery Staffs Negotiating Council will shortly result in new procedures for clearing all outstanding cases at the Welsh and national levels.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : Each year, I approve the operational plan of the Health Promotion Authority for Wales and the authority reports on progress at its annual reviews conducted by the Department. In addition, the authority commissions a number of regular surveys to measure changes in people's behaviour. "Plans for Action 3 : The Agenda for 1992-94", published in July 1992, showed progress towards meeting the targets set out in the authority's health promotion strategy, based on surveys undertaken in 1990. A further progress report will be published during 1994-95, drawing upon the results of the 1993-94 surveys. The authority is also due to publish an evaluation report of the Heartbeat Wales initiative during 1994.
Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will give a detailed account of the progress so far of the Oystermouth square development scheme in Mumbles and the next stages of the planning process it needs to go through.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : The Secretary of State called in for his own determination the application for the Oystermouth square development scheme because it raised planning issues of more than local importance. A public local
Column 544inquiry was arranged for 30 March 1993, but was postponed to permit the applicant to submit revised plans to take account of the line of a main sewer which would have made the original plans impossible to implement. The revised plans were submitted in June 1993 and were the subject of wide consultation and publicity. The public local inquiry opened on 23 November 1993 and is scheduled to be completed by the end of December. The inspector will then make his report and recommendation to the Secretary of State who will consider them before reaching his decision.
While the issues of organisation and management are essentially matters for the agency, its senior management structure is subject to approval and the agency will be submitting its proposals shortly. Because of the chairman's close involvement in this review and its implementation I have temporarily increased his time commitment from two and a half days per week to four days per week.
Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will discuss with the Council of the Welsh Districts the consequences of the introduction on 14 January of the new £24,000 ceiling on home renovation grants.
Mr. Tipping : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list, for each separate piece of land currently owned or leased by the Forestry Commission in Dyfed, Gwent, Gwynedd and Powys (a) its name and (b) its area in hectares ; and whether he will place a map in the Library which names and identifies each of these pieces of land.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what consultations he has had with the South Glamorgan health authority in relation to the compensation offer made to Mr. Alan Trew, former unit manager of the Cardiff Royal group of hospitals ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Redwood : I intend to make £144.403 million recurrent and £15.615 million capital grant in aid available to the Further Education Funding Council for Wales in 1994-95. This is an increase of 11.2 per cent. over provision in 1993-94. Grant in aid to the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales will be £199.973 million recurrent and £22.840 million capital. Total recurrent resources for the HE sector in Wales will be 6.7 per cent. higher than in 1993-94 and capital resources 6.1 per cent. higher.
These increases in resources will enable the universities and colleges to provide places for substantially higher number of students than the record levels achieved this year, while maintaining the quality of course provision.
I am placing in the Library of the House copies of letters which are being sent today to the chief executive of the funding councils.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : I have been asked to reply. I am advised on health and safety policy by the Health and Safety Commission, HSC. Government policy is to create a legislative framework and supporting safety systems which protect people from workplace risks. Within that system, the primary responsibility for ensuring the safety of workers and public rests with employers and others who create those risks. The function of the HSC and the Health and Safety Executive--the HSE--is to stimulate action and to set, advise on and enforce standards. It is the Government's policy to ensure the greatest possible value for money is achieved in the work of the HSE.
The HSC is also currently undertaking a review of health and safety legislation, designed to simplify, clarify and update it. The Government expect this to result in improved health and safety standards for workers.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make it her policy to hold records on the names of hospitals and health authorities which have ceased non-urgent surgery; and if she will make a statement.
Dr. Mawhinney : The organisation of workload and the delivery of contracts are matters for local managers and clinicians. There are no plans to add to the burdens of managers and other staff by requiring additional statistical returns to the centre on this subject.
Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has in future to ensure that there are sufficient supplies of influenza vaccine when demand increases in response to advice on immunisation given by her chief medical officer.
Mr. Sackville : The Department will continue to liaise with the influenza vaccine manufacturers each year, in advance of the issue of the chief medical officer's letter to doctors, to ensure that their production intentions are to total at least the previous year's usage plus an increment for year on year increases in uptake.
The CMO's advice for 1993-94 was the same as for 1992-93. Doses of vaccine distributed in 1992-93 totalled just under 4.7 million. For 1993-94 they have exceeded 5 million despite the fact that a fifth of our expected supply did not become available.
Copies of the letter, PL/CMO(93)13, will be placed in the Library.
Dr. Mawhinney : This informat from the specialist independent sub- committee chaired by Professor Sir William Asscher on the effectiveness of nicotine patches in helping patients to give up smoking; and if she proposes to accept it.
Dr. Mawhinney : A special committee chaired by Sir William Asscher was asked to advise on whether a decision to remove a particular nicotine patch product from national health service prescription should be reviewed. The committee advised that the product should be available on the NHS at a reduced price. After careful consideration of all the facts, including the advice of the committee, it has been decided that the supply of nicotine patches is not a priority for the use of the limited resources available to the NHS.
Dr. Marek : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recommendations have been made in the publication "Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin", on the availability of nicotine patches on NHS prescription in order to help patients give up smoking.
Dr. Mawhinney : The drug and therapeutics bulletin of 22 November concluded, in an article about nicotine patches, that the use of "nicotine patches plus advice and support, should be provided by the NHS."
Copies of the bulletin are available in the Library.