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Mr. Hall : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the contributions made by the Commission for New Towns to each former new town local authority for promotional activities each year since 1988.
Mr. Baldry : There have been no contributions by the commission to local authorities for promotional activities since 1988 although various promotion agencies, which include local authority representation, have received such contributions.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations have been made to institutions of the European Communities regarding the application of community funds to the social and infrastructural re-invigoration of inner-city areas.
Mr. Baldry : The Government promoted a powerful case for increased assistance from the structural funds for inner city areas. As a result, Merseyside has gained objective 1 status from January 1994. Other inner city areas, including for the first time parts of London, have gained objective 2 status. We were disappointed that some urban areas proposed by the Government were omitted from the list of eligible areas agreed by the Commission. However, at 76 per cent. of our original bid for objective2 funding, the United Kingdom has done better than almost every other member state.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment who is the sponsor Minister for (a) Birmingham Sandwell and Walsall, (b) Wolverhampton, (c) Nottingham, Rugby and Leicester, (d) Sheffield and Hull, (e) Newcastle, Tyne and Weir, (f) Leeds, Bradford and Kirklees, (g) Bristol, (h) Plymouth and (i) Stoke on Trent; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry : The list of sponsor Ministers was placed in the Library of the House on 4 November 1993, and a copy of the list has been sent to the hon. Member. There has been one change to the list since 4 November; following the move of Lady Denton to the Northern Ireland Office, her responsibilities as sponsor Minister for Leeds, Bradford and Batley have been taken over by the hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Curry).
Ms Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the number of appointments he makes to those non- departmental agencies he has responsibility for and their budgets.
Sir George Young : The available data relate to local authority areas. The reported number of households accepted as homeless by Kirklees metropolitan council are given in the supplementary table to the quarterly Information Bulletin "Households found accommodation under the homelessness provisions of the 1985 Housing Act : England"; copies of both are in the Library. The latest statistics are for the third quarter of 1993.
Mr. Atkins : The Department of the Environment's Energy Efficiency Office budget has been increased to more than £100 million for 1994- 95, over 17 times the level of expenditure in 1979-80. It runs a comprehensive range of programmes and initiatives to encourage the efficient use of energy. In addition, the Department is taking a variety of initiatives with regard to publicly owned housing and, as set out in the answer given on 19 January to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) by my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry) Official Report , columns 671-72 , is considering proposals to strengthen the energy efficiency requirements of the Building Regulations. The Department's programmes, and their contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions and protecting the environment generally, are set out in the United Kingdom's report under the framework covention on climate change and in the United Kingdom's strategy for sustainable development, both of which were launched by the Prime Minister on 25 January 1994.
Mr. Atkins : The Government's policies for protecting and enhancing the marine environment were summarised within "This Common Inheritance" in 1990 and reported upon in the 1991 and 1992 reports (Cm. 1655 and Cm.2068 respectively). A further report is to be published shortly.
Mr. Hawksley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how the Government propose to phase out the use of halons more rapidly than required by the Montreal protocol following the decision to establish a halon recycling scheme ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : It is not Government policy to phase out the use of halons. Our policy, in line with that of the Montreal protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer, and subsequent EC regulations, is to control the production and supply of halons, not their use. Production of halon was phased out by 1 January 1994. The halon bank has been set up to enable recycled halons to be made available to service those halon users with a continuing need. The establishment of the bank is in accordance with decision IV/26 of the parties to the protocol agreed in November 1992 to encourage recovery, reclamation and recycling of halons. The UK halon bank was the first in the world and has helped to ensure that production of halon will not be necessary during 1994.
Mr. Rooker : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list those topics on which it is not his practice to answer parliamentary questions ; and if he will list any recent changes in the practice of his Department.
Mr. Hendry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to publicise the United Kingdom's activities implementing the agreement on the conservation of small cetaceans of the Baltic and North seas.
Recent activities have built on our already extensive range of laws intended to protect dolphins and other marine and land-based animals, and their habitats.
A co-ordinating committee has been established to ensure the objectives of the agreement were understood and acted upon by Government agencies. This has resulted in extensive co-operation between Government Departments, agencies, universities and voluntary bodies to identify priorities for action, set up a secretariat to run the agreement and begin vital research work.
Action taken by the Government to support the agreement includes financial contributions for a number of research projects : a two-year international survey of populations and distributions of porpoises and dolphins in the North sea and English channel, research into ways of deterring cetaceans from swimming into fishing nets, recording of beached animals and analysis of cause of death, and investigation of the problems presented by acoustic disturbance. Taken together, these projects will provide a sound basis for future policies and programmes for effective and appropriate protection of these species on an international scale.
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has made, in accordance with the objective of global conservation set out in the United Kingdom action plan for biodiversity, to the Governments of Canada and British Columbia over the logging of substantial areas of Canada's temperate rainforest.
None. The Canadian Government and British Columbia authorities are well aware of public concern in the United Kingdom about logging.
Mr. McLoughlin : It is for the Post Office Board to ensure the competitiveness of the Post Office and for the Government to set the framework within which it does so. That framework is under consideration within the Post Office review, which is still continuing.
All Crown, franchise and modified sub post offices displayed posters giving 1st class letter targets and performance on a quarterly basis for their local postcode area.
Post Office Counters Ltd.
All Crown offices displayed posters giving annual national targets for customer queuing times and performance of the individual office on a quarterly basis. In 1993-94 a rolling programme to introduce posters displaying queuing time targets is being implemented in the largest 5,000 agency offices.
All Crown, franchise and modified sub post offices displayed posters, for a period of one month after the Post Office annual report and accounts for 1992-93 were published, giving national delivery targets and performance for inland services for that year.
The 1993-94 annual targets for 1st class letter delivery--nationally and for each postcode area--are set out in detail in the Post Office's 1992-93 annual report and accounts. For 1993-94 the overall national target is to deliver 92 per cent. of 1st-class letters on the next working day after posting. For the April-June 1993 quarter in the York postcode area the overall performance for 1st class letter delivery by the next working day was 91 per cent. against a local annual target of 92 per cent.
Post Office Counters Ltd.
For all Crown and franchise offices an annual target of 96 per cent. of all customers to be served within 5 minutes was set for 1993-94. For the quarter 22 April-14 July 1993 performance against this target was 97.8 per cent. In addition, this target is being extended during 1993-94 under a rolling programme to 5,000 of the largest sub post offices.
National annual delivery targets for 1993-94 and performance for the quarter April-June 1993 are as follows :
|Target |Performance |April-June '93 |Per cent. |Per cent. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Parcelforce Datapost 10 |99.0 |96.9 Parcelforce Datapost 12 |99.0 |97.5 Parcelforce 24 |99.0 |95.7 Parcelforce 48 |98.0 |93.9 Parcelforce Standard |94.0 |95.0
Mr. McLoughlin : A draft agreement has been negotiated by the European Commission and the Russian Space Agency governing Russian access to the international market for space launch services between 1995 and 2000. Conclusion of the agreement is still being considered both by the member states of the European Union and by the Russian Government.
19. Mr. Orme : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he last met representatives of the British aerospace companies to discuss future prospects for the industry; and if he will make a statement.
20. Mr. Fabricant : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assistance his Department is giving to promote British chinaware in United Kingdom embassies and high commissions overseas ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Needham : The full range of overseas trade services are avilable to the British chinaware industry for their export campaigns. In addition, I hope shortly to be able to announce formally the establishment of a DTI tabletop advisory group. This will include manufacturers of china, glass, cutlery and table linen. The group will work with the DTI, manufacturers and retailers to promote the sectors' competitiveness and sales both at home and overseas.
Mr. Byers : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many domestic gas consumers use (i) 100 therms, (ii) 200 therms, (iii) 300 therms, (iv) 500 therms, (v) 1,000 therms and (vi) 2,000 therms a year ; and what is the forecast percentage change in cost of those levels of consumption as a result of the abolition of the monopoly control over the domestic gas tariff.
Analysis of British Gas domestic tariff sales (September 1992 estimate) Range |Number of therms per |customers year ---------------------------------- 0-100 |1,325,311 101-200 |964,173 201-300 |1,392,542 301-500 |3,871,768 501-1,000 |8,121,502 1,001-2,000 |1,965,922 over 2,000 |152,482 |----- |17,793,700 Source: Monopolies and Mergers Commission, Gas and British Gas plc, Volume 2, Appendix 4.1, Table 2.
Abolition of the monopoly will expose British Gas to competition which should lead to reduced prices to domestic consumers. A joint DTI/OFGAS public consultation document, to be published soon, will discuss the operation of the competitive market and the arrangements for regulating the transition to full competition.
Mr. McLoughlin : We have been encouraged by the recycling rates achieved in recent years. Around 30 per cent. of container glass, for example, was recycled in 1993, compared with only 20 per cent. in 1990.
The producer responsibility initiative that we launched in July 1993 is aimed at encouraging commerce and industry to increase recycling rates further.
24. Mr. Jon Owen Jones : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many investigations are currently being carried out by the Insolvency Service ; and how many were carried out during (a) 1980 and (b) 1985.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : Under the Insolvency Act 1986 the Official Receiver has a duty to investigate the affairs of each company wound up by the courts and the conduct and affairs of every bankrupt except where an order for summary administration has been made.
There were 6,910 winding-up and receiving orders made in 1980 and 12,477 made in 1985. In 1993 there were 8,361 winding-up orders and 31,025 bankruptcy orders including 5,357 summary cases.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : The Government believe that it is important to have a civilised, orderly and equitable method for dealing with financial failure of individuals and businesses and for tackling fraud and malpractice where they occur. The insolvency legislation seeks to achieve this end. It is kept under continual review.
26. Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what further representations he has received from business or consumer organisations about banning the sale of electrical equipment without pre-fitted plugs.
Mr. McLoughlin : Representations from business and consumer organisations were received during the formal consultation on the proposed regulations last year. Also, a number of meetings were subsequently held with officials. There was general support for the proposed regulations.
However, the European Commission is still seeking clarification on a number of points which is delaying the progress of the proposed regulations. I am hopeful that these matters will be resolved shortly.
Mr. Sainsbury : The Government are committed to stimulating growth and job creation throughout the United Kingdom. Assisted area status and objective 2 status have been granted to parts of the South East in the past 12months.
Mr. Sainsbury : My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has not discussed this subject with industry representatives recently, but my hon. Friend the Minister for Trade met representatives from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders on 1 February to discuss, among other matters, issues relating to the export of automotive products.
37. Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what information he has on the value of (a) British and (b) Japanese arms exports in the most recent years for which comparable figures are available ; and what proportion this represents of total exports from those countries.