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Mr. Michael Spicer : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list those district councils whose provisional increase in their standard spending assessment between 1993-94 and 1994-95 is greater than 10 per cent.
Mr. Baldry : Those authorities with a provisional increase in their standard spending assessments of more than 10 per cent. in 1994-95 are listed in descending order.
List of District Councils with a provisional increase in SSA of more than 10 per cent. Local authority |Percentage |change ---------------------------------------------------------- Brentwood |35.9 Tewkesbury |29.6 South Bucks |28.3 North East Derbyshire |25.8 Ashfield |24.8 East Dorset |23.4 Three Rivers |23.4 Blyth Valley |22.6 Basildon |22.3 South Oxfordshire |22.2 Broxbourne |22.1 Welwyn Hatfield |22.0 Mole Valley |22.0 South Staffordshire |21.7 Epping Forest |20.7 Langbaurgh-on-Tees |20.5 Taunton Deane |19.2 Sevenoaks |18.8 Mansfield |18.7 Holderness |18.7 Halton |18.6 Runnymede |18.4 Thurrock |18.3 Wansbeck |17.9 Chiltern |17.7 Hereford |17.7 Eastleigh |17.6 Christchurch |17.5 Copeland |16.7 East Hertfordshire |16.7 Tamworth |16.6 Bolsover |16.5 Adur |16.4 Chesterfield |16.4 Durham |16.3 Rochford |16.2 Crawley |16.1 Lewes |16.0 Restormel |15.8 Hertsmere |15.7 Uttlesford |15.6 Berwick-upon-Tweed |15.5 Stockton-on-Tees |15.3 Rushcliffe |15.0 East Yorkshire |14.8 Chester-le-Street |14.7 Colchester |14.4 Test Valley |14.3 Harlow |14.3 North Kesteven |14.3 Ryedale |14.2 Lichfield |13.9 South Wight |13.8 Scarborough |13.8 Bromsgrove |13.7 Stratford-on-Avon |13.7 Caradon |13.6 Derwentside |13.4 Charnwood |13.3 Canterbury |12.9 Salisbury |12.8 Bassetlaw |12.7 Mid Sussex |12.5 Sedgefield |12.4 Winchester |12.3 West Dorset |12.3 Wealden |12.2 Dartford |12.2 Tendring |12.1 Gosport |12.1 North West Leicestershire |12.1 Scunthorpe |12.0 Wychavon |11.9 Amber Valley |11.9 Allerdale |11.8 Eastbourne |11.7 Lancaster |11.7 South Bedfordshire |11.7 Surrey Heath |11.6 Vale of White Horse |11.5 West Lancashire |11.2 Wyre Forest |11.2 Stevenage |11.1 Chelmsford |11.1 Great Grimsby |11.1 Mid Bedfordshire |10.8 North Cornwall |10.7 Rutland |10.7 Richmondshire |10.7 Purbeck |10.6 Middlesbrough |10.5 Kennet |10.5 West Lindsey |10.5 Glanford |10.3 Worcester |10.2 Cotswold |10.1 Castle Morpeth |10.1 East Lindsey |10.0 Lincoln |10.0
Mr. Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give the figures for council house voids, as a percentage of its total housing stock, submitted to his Department by Westminster city council for each year since 1985.
Sir George Young : The percentage of their own dwellings that Westminster city council reported on its annual housing investment programme--HIP1--returns as vacant at 1 April in the years 1985 to 1993 were as follows :
|Per cent. ------------------------------ 1985 |3.6 1986 |3.2 1987 |2.8 1988 |4.0 1989 |5.6 1990 |3.4 1991 |2.9 1992 |1.8 1993 |2.0
Mr. Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list, with appropriate dates, the chief housing officers and the housing committee chairmen who have served on the City of Westminster council since 1 April 1985.
Sir George Young : This is a matter for Westminster city council.
Mrs. Beckett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his latest estimate of the amount of capital receipts spent by local authorities since the relaxation of rules concerning such receipts (a) in total and (b) in each local authority.
Mr. Baldry : Under the temporary relaxation in the rules, local authorities can spend 100 per cent. of virtually
Column 870all capital receipts received during the period from 13 November 1992 to 31 December 1993. The receipts can be spent at any time. The information which authorities provide to my Department on the spending of their usable capital receipts relates to financial years ; I am arranging for their latest returns to be placed in the Library of the House. On the basis of these returns, authorities provisionally estimated spending of usable capital receipts of about £1 billion in 1992-93 and are forecasting spending of £1.8 billion in 1993-94. It is not possible for my Department to estimate the proportion of these totals relating to receipts received during the relaxation of the rules.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many local authority-owned houses and flats have been sold since the introduction of right to buy in each housing authority in England and Wales.
Sir George Young : A table showing the available information on total right-to-buy sales for each English local authority for every financial year since 1980 and a cumulative total to September 1993 was recently placed in the Library. In addition, the table also gives data on total sales and on the number of flats sold.
For information about Wales, I refer the hon. Member to the Secretary of State for Wales.
Mr. Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which councils are currently implementing a designated council house sales policy of the type described by the district auditor in his report on Westminster city council ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir George Young : The Department does not collect information on voluntary sales undertaken by local authorities in a way which would permit the identification of policies of the type mentioned.
Mr. Willetts : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to publish consultation drafts of the statutory instruments which will implement the compulsory competitive tendering of housing management for consultation.
Sir George Young : On 26 November, I announced-- Official Report, columns 264-65 --how the Department proposed to proceed with the implementation of compulsory competitive tendering of housing management. My announcement followed detailed consultation with local authorities and their representatives. I am today publishing drafts of the orders and regulations which will put these proposals into effect.
I am also publishing today draft guidance for local authorities designed to avoid anti-competitive behaviour. The guidance seeks to ensure that authorities can continue to deliver comprehensive and estate-based housing services and at the same time ensure that there is free and fair competition for their delivery. The wide-ranging guidance is designed to balance the needs of housing authorities and contractors, and to safeguard the interests of tenants.
Column 871Copies of all these documents are being sent to each local housing authority in England. Local authorities and others have until 4 March to let the Department have their views on these documents. Copies are also being placed in the Library.
Mr. Whittingdale : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, what advice he proposes to give local authorities on the handling of issues related to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 in relation to compulsory competitive tendering.
Mr. Baldry : Today my Department has written to all local authority chief executives enclosing an issues paper on the handling of TUPE issues in relation to compulsory competitive tendering. This follows consultation with representatives of the local authority associations and industries engaged in CCT contracting.
The paper covers, among other matters, the approach which authorities should adopt in relation to : requests for indemnities; the provision of information to contractors about workforce matters; delay to the CCT timetable; the treatment of tenders where there is a disagreement on the applicability of TUPE; and the evaluation of tenders.
The paper also indicated that Department of the Environment circular 10/93 will be amended to provide that local authorities may give a preliminary view of the likelihood of TUPE applying to a contract.
The paper deals with matters of the handling of TUPE-related issues. As regards the substantive issue of whether or not TUPE applies to a particular contract, the position remains that this depends on the detailed facts of each case, as set out in the guidance which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster issued on 11 March last year.
I have today placed a copy of the letter to chief executives and the paper in the Library.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales has decided to issue the paper to local authorities in Wales. The Welsh Office has today written to all local authority chief executives in Wales enclosing the paper and indicating that Welsh Office circular 40/93 will be amended in line with DOE circular 10/93.
The Government's view on pension rights in relation to TUPE and market testing of services is set out in "The Government's Guide to Market Testing" published by the Office of Public Services and Science efficiency unit in July 1993, paragraph 5.18. In my discussions, a number of industry organisations have commented on the matter of pensions rights in relation to CCT. I am considering these comments and I will issue further advice on this matter as appropriate.
Mr. Tipping : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what criteria he has used to choose the site of the Flagship business park in Nottinghamshire outlined in "Prospects for Coal" ; when he will announce this site ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry [holding answer 14 January 1994] : Following the announcement of the intention to establish a Flagship business park in the Nottingham area by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on 25 March 1993, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing, Inner Cities and Local Government announced on Tuesday 18 January 1994 that four sites have been
Column 872selected in the east midlands for designation as enterprise zones. This is subject to the agreement of the European Commission. The sites have been chosen in areas where the work force has been directly affected by colliery closures, having regard to the need to strike a balance between those sites likely to attract development and generate jobs quickly and those which will make a significant contribution to the reclamation and regeneration of the area.
Mr. Pendry : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will report on his consultations with the Sports Council GB following his statement of 9 July 1993, Official Report, column 599 ; and on what date he expects to announce his fresh proposals.
Mr. Brooke : Discussions with the Sports Council and other interested parties are continuing. I expect to announce fresh proposals for reorganisation around Easter.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what consideration and representations his Department has undertaken regarding the impact of a common visa list with other EC states on the Commonwealth games in 2002 in either Sheffield, London and Manchester ; and if he will make a statement before the venue is announced.
Mr. Charles Wardle : I have been asked to reply.
None. It is too early to say what visa requirements will be in place in 2002.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what financial assistance he has granted to the Welsh grant-maintained schools centre in High Wycombe with respect to its activities in granted to the centre ; what assistance in kind has been granted to the centre ; what proposals he has for further grant in aid ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir Wyn Roberts : The grant-maintained schools centre at High Wycombe provides a service for schools in both England and Wales. For the current financial year, the Department has offered a grant of up to £40,000 in respect of advice the centre offers to schools in Wales both prior to and after their incorporation as grant-maintained schools. In addition, the GMSC has been involved in the arrangement of three conferences on grant-maintained status. Details of the costs have yet to be finalised. No assistance in kind has been granted to the GMSC.
No decisions have been taken concerning future levels of Government funding.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the members of the independent panel of professional advisers who advise on urban investment grants applications above £250,000.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : The membership of the urban investment grant appraisal panel is detailed in the publication "Public Bodies : Appointments made by the Secretary of State for Wales".
A copy of this publication has been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what consultations he has had with the chairmen of NHS ambulance trusts about early retirement entitlement for ambulance drivers, control room staff and management aged over 55 years ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : None. My right hon. Friend is considering what arrangements might be introduced to facilitate the early retirement of long -serving ambulance staff in Wales.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what proposals he has for the rationalisation of the ambulance service in Wales; and what representations he has received on proposed alterations affecting boundaries, numbers of control rooms and senior management personnel required to maximise efficiency in the service.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : Proposals for the rationalisation of ambulance services in Wales are provided by the services themselves through applications for NHS trust status. Each application is subject to three months' public consultation and the representations received cover a variety of issues relating to the specific proposals for trust status. Every representation is taken into account, alongside the individual merits of the application, before a decision is made on whether to establish a trust.
Applications have been approved in respect of the South and East Wales ambulance NHS trust, which became operational on 1 April 1993 covering services provided in Gwent, Powys and South Glamorgan, and the North Wales ambulance NHS trust which will become fully operational on 1 April 1994 covering services provided in Clwyd and Gwynedd.
In addition, a joint application from East Dyfed and West Glamorgan ambulance services to form the West Wales ambulance NHS trust has been deferred with an invitation to re-present proposals to obtain trust status from 1 April 1995.
Copies of the NHS trust applications have been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the setting up of one-stop shops for enterprise support in Wales.
Mr. Redwood : I refer the hon. Gentleman to my answers of 16 December 1993, Official Report, columns 854-55, and 11 January 1994, Official Report, column 102.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he has taken to get financial assistance from the EC veterinary fund to assist in his animal health programme.
Mr. Ancram : The Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland sumbitted on application in 1991 for assistance from the EC veterinary fund in respect of expenditure on animal disease eradication. The application was unsuccessful due to the fund being heavily oversubscribed and this was also the position in 1992 and 1993 when the application was carried forward. The Department's bid remains active for 1994.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list by county the number of badgers shot and gassed in each year since 1988 ; and what percentage of those badgers were subsequently shown to have tuberculosis.
Mr. Ancram : In Northern Ireland badgers are protected by the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 and it is illegal for badgers to be shot or gassed. Since the order took effect, no badger has been shot or gassed for disease investigation purposes and there are no records of any illegal shooting or gassing.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what research he has carried out into the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in badgers in Northern Ireland ; and what evidence he has that badgers are a source of tuberculosis in cattle in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Ancram : Past studies based mainly on road casualty badgers indicated that they do not represent a significant factor in the spread of bovine TB. In Northern Ireland there is no evidence that badgers are a major source of TB infection in cattle. It is estimated that badgers are responsible for some 2 per cent. of herd breakdowns at present.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many general practitioners received gross payments in excess of £200,000 per year in each year since 1991-92.
Mr. Ancram : There were four in 1991-92 and 10 in 1992-93. In each case, the general medical practitioner was a dispensing doctor whose payments, in addition to the normal fees and allowances for providing general medical services, included dispensing fees and reimbursement of the cost of drugs supplied to patients.
Mr. George : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the current state of Anglo-Argentinian relations.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Relations with Argentina are good. Ministers meet frequently. Trade and investment are growing fast. We co-operate in a wide range of areas. But we reject Argentina's continued claim to the Falkland Islands and other British dependent territories.
Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the total money received in compensation from the Chinese
Column 875Government under the Foreign Compensation (People's Republic of China) Order 1987 in respect of losses incurred between 1949 and 1952 ; what is the total value of claims received ; what is the total value of claims allowed ; what is the total amount paid out to claims to date ; what is the percentage settlement being used ; what is the total amount spent on administration ; how much interest was earned whilst Ernst and Young deliberated ; and what is the current balance of the fund.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : In 1987, the Chinese Government agreed a settlement of £23,468,008 for all British claims arising before 1 January 1980 but had a counter-claim of their own. As a result, the net amount passed to the Foreign Compensation Commission was £21,873, 660.35.
The total value of claims received was £152,355,040. The total value awarded by the commission was £40,375,214. The percentage settlement being used is 62.25 per cent. The total amount paid to date is £25,127,550.34.
To date, £3,323,506.97 has been spent on administration. Interest earned was £8,786,835.29 on which £2,198.277.30 has been paid in tax. The commission reports that there is currently £50,058 at the bank. The figure includes unclaimed payments.
It is not possible without considerable research to differentiate the claims for losses incurred between 1949 and 1952.
Mr. Livingstone : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many papers have been presented by the United Kingdom Government to the United Nations and the review conferences of the 1972 biological and toxin weapons convention disclosing information on Britain's past biological warfare activities ; and why and when these papers were presented.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The United Kingdom has twice provided a "Declaration of past activities in offensive and/or defensive biological research and development programmes" to the United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs in Geneva. These declarations were required under the confidence-building measures adopted by the 1991 third review conference of the 1972 bacteriological--biological--and toxic weapons convention. They were submitted in April 1992 and April 1993.
Mr. Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Atkinson) of 17 January, Official Report, columns 354-55, which of the conventions and agreements listed have entered into force.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : The following have entered into force : European convention on compulsory insurance against civil liability in respect of motor vehicles
Agreement relating to application of the European convention on international commercial arbitration
European convention of the supervision of conditionally sentenced or conditionally released offenders
European convention on the punishment of road traffic offences European agreement of "au-pair" placement
European convention on the international validity of criminal judgments
European convention on the transfer of proceedings in criminal
European convention on the calculation of time limits
European convention on social security
Supplementary agreement to the European convention on social security
Agreement on the transfer of corpses
European convention on the international effects of deprivation of the right to drive a motor vehicle
European convention on the legal status of migrant workers European convention on the service abroad of documents relating to administrative matters
European convention on the obtaining abroad of information and evidence in administrative matters
European convention on the control of the acquisition and possession of firearms by individuals
European convention for the protection of animals for slaughter European outline convention of transfrontier co-operation between territorial communities or authorities
European charter of local self-government
European convention for the protection of pet animals
European convention on the general equivalence of periods of university study
Mr. Marlow : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list all islands in the world larger than 10,000 sq m that are not subject to a unique sovereignty, setting out the different sovereign powers in each case.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The information requested is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who are the members currently appointed to the Foreign Compensation Commission.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The currently appointed members of the Foreign Compensation Commission are Mr. A. W. E. Wheeler, CBE--Chairman--and Mr. J. A. S. Hall, DFC.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the current status of the United Nations convention on the law of the sea and the British Government's position on the convention; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The United Nations convention on the law of the sea has now been ratified by 60 countries. It will enter into force in accordance with its terms on 16 November 1994. Although the convention contains many provisions of substantial value, we made known to the House in 1984 our objections to part XI of the convention which covers deep seabed mining. We welcomed and have participated fully in consultation under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General aimed at resolving the issues which have prevented industrialised countries from ratifying the convention. We will play an active part in the next round of consultations to be held in New York from 31 January to 4 February.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to ensure that mining museums continue to receive technical expertise, services and material for collection after the privatisation of British Coal.
Mr. Eggar : It will be for the mining museums to establish links with the new coal mining companies when British Coal is privatised.
Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the President of the Board of Trade who are the members currently appointed to the Coal Task Force.
Mr. Eggar : The Coal Task Force was recently superseded by a new body, the Advisory Committee on Coal Research, whose membership is as follows :
Dr. K. Brown (Chairman)
Energy Technology Support Unit
Dr. J. Billingsley
Dr. H. Davies
Dr. B. Gainey
Mr. R. Haywood
Rolls Royce Power Engineering
Mr. J. Monson
Mr. A. Oliver
Mr. J. Perrin
Babcock Energy Ltd.
Dr. D. Pollard
European Gas Turbines Ltd.
Miss B. Webster
Webster Mining Co. Ltd.
Dr. J. Whitehead
Coal Research Establishment
Prof. A. Williams
Prof. J. Patrick