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Sir Wyn Roberts : Since 5 January when the final reports by Sir Ron Dearing and the Curriculum Council for Wales and the Government's response were published, the Department has received representations from over 70 individuals and organisations regarding the impact of the review of the national curriculum and its assessment in Wales. Those who made representations have a right to assume that their views have been submitted in confidence and I am not therefore in a position to identify the individuals or organisations concerned.
Mr. Hanson : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make it his policy to establish a register of interests of all members of the boards of Welsh quangos, which is open to inspection by members of the public, giving details of party political membership, other positions held and paid employment in the private sector.
Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) how many county councils wrote to the Curriculum Council for Wales during its review of the national curriculum and assessment in Wales, expressing the view that the teaching of Welsh as a foundation subject of key stage 4 should not remain part of the national curriculum ; (2) how many secondary schools in Wales wrote to the Curriculum Council for Wales expressing an opinion against including the Welsh language as a foundation subject at key stage 4 as part of the national curriculum ; and how many of those schools had already been the subject of a deferment order regarding the teaching of Welsh at key stage three or four ;
(3) how many secondary schools reported to the Curriculum Council for Wales or his Office that they had encountered difficulties recruiting an adequate number of teachers qualified to teach the Welsh language in their response to the review of the curriculum and assessment in Wales.
Sir Wyn Roberts : The Curriculum Council for Wales conducted extensive consultations on changes to the national curriculum at key stage 4 as part of the review of the national curriculum and assessment which I commissioned last year. The consultations included conferences and the invitation to submit written representations. In its final report which it submitted to me in December, the council summarised the views expressed during this consultation exercise, and made recommendations in the light of them. Copies of the report have been sent to all Welsh Members of the House and further copies are available in the Library of the House.
Details of the conduct of the consultations are described in the report. Individual responses to the council cannot be made available for public inspection as individuals who wrote to the council are entitled to consider that their submissions have been made in confidence.
In response to the review I have received two reports from secondary schools about the recruitment of teachers qualified to teach Welsh.
Sir Wyn Roberts : There were no formal consultations with the Welsh Language Board on changes to the national curriculum in Wales since the review by the Curriculum Council for Wales and Sir Ron Dearing was conducted prior to the establishment of the board on 21 December 1993.
Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many schools requested exemption, as opposed to deferment, of the requirement to provide Welsh in the national curriculum at key stage 3 or 4 in response to the invitation in his consultation document issued on 7 May 1991.
Sir Wyn Roberts : Schools were not directly invited to respond to this consultation exercise which was carried out under the terms of section 21 of the Education Reform Act 1988. However, copies of the consultation document were sent for school governors to information. In response, 17 schools made direct representations to the Welsh Office.
Of these, 16 requested exemption from the national curriculum requirements for Welsh at key stages 4 and 2 also requested exemption from the key stage 3 requirements. One school also sought deferment of the key stage 3 requirements.
Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will consult with the Welsh Language Board on the implications of the Welsh Language Act 1993 for treating Welsh and English on a basis of equality in the national curriculum.
Sir Wyn Roberts : The Welsh Language Board is responsible for taking a broad overview of Welsh medium and Welsh second-language education. The Government and the new Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales will be consulting the language board regularly on Welsh language issues which impact on the national curriculum.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what was the value of consultancy contracts awarded by his Department and its predecessors each year since 1979, both in current prices and at constant 1994 prices.
Mr. Amess : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the transfer of properties from the Commission for New Towns to British housing associations and Basildon council.
Sir George Young : In accordance with the results of the tenants' ballot, 85 per cent. of the rented housing stock held by the Commission for the New Towns at Basildon was transferred to Basildon district council on 31 January 1994. Responsibility for the management of the remaining 15 per cent. was taken over by the Basildon Community housing association on the same day, with a view the freehold being transferred as soon as the housing association is able to complete the necessary arrangements.
Mr. Hutton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what advice his Department has issued to local authorities concerning the siting of playgrounds and other leisure facilities near to electricity sub- stations ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry : Planning advice is not issued by the Department on such sites. Electricity companies are required by the Electricity Supply Regulations 1988, as amended, to take note of the nature and use of land adjacent to their installations, and to take appropriate measures to protect and warn the public of the associated dangers.
Mr. Baldry : Since the North Peckham task force opened in April 1986, it has funded well over 300 projects, of which 30 are still being funded. In some of these, funding will extend up to two years after the task force formally closes on 31 March 1994. I will write to the hon. Member with a full list.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what response he has made to the changed proposals put forward by the Greek Presidency of the EU regarding the phase-out period for the co-disposal of hazardous and domestic waste.
Mr. Atkins : The Greek Presidency has suggested that the landfill directive should provide for the co-disposal of hazardous waste with municipal waste to be phased out over a period of 10 years rather than five years proposed by the European Commission. The United Kingdom reiterated its view in working group discussions on the Greek proposal that the directive should recognise that properly controlled co-disposal is an environmentally sound waste management option, and provide for it to continue to be practised by those member states which wish to do so. The Government agree that the directive should place a ban on the uncontrolled mixing of hazardous waste with municipal waste.
Mr. Robert Ainsworth : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the efficiency of the Groundwork Foundation in terms of the percentage of the grant-in-aid from his Department which is passed on to Groundwork trusts ; and what alternative arrangements he has considered to ensure value for money.
Mr. Atkins : The Groundwork Foundation administers its grant-in-aid in accordance with the provisions of a grant memorandum, the terms of which are kept under review by my Department. All payments made by the foundation towards the approved running costs of Groundwork trusts are subject to the prior approval of the Department. The forecast funding requirement of existing and planned trusts is an element of the foundation's corporate strategy considered by the Department in the annual public expenditure round.
Mr. Robert Ainsworth : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the effects of the funding arrangements of the Groundwork Foundation on existing environmental trusts.
Mr. Atkins : The Groundwork Foundation is funded to support and develop the Groundwork trust network. Groundwork trusts are formed and managed by local people. The trusts are encouraged to complement the work of existing environmental bodies and collaborate with them. The trusts stimulate increased expenditure on environmental improvements, from which the other bodies can benefit.
Mr. Robert Ainsworth : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 28 January, Official Report, column 443, what consideration he has given to enabling existing environmental charities to bid for the grant-in-aid paid to the Groundwork Foundation.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the conditions under which architectural services and other specialised agencies of county councils can be offered for privatisation ; and how many offers constitute the level of competition he requires.
Mr. Baldry : If an authority chooses to invite private contractors to carry out these services, then the basis on which they do so is a matter for them, subject only to the requirements of the EC public procurement directives and their general fiduciary duty. The Government intend to require authorities to seek competitive tenders before their own staff are allowed to undertake this work and will be consulting on detailed proposals shortly.
Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which recent policy commitments and initiatives in the United Kingdom biodiversity action plan were (a) not previously announced and (b) do not result from the Government's legal obligations under the European Union habitats directive.
Mr. Atkins : The goal, principles and objectives contained in the plan are in themselves a significant re-definition of policies. The most important new initiative is to establish a biodiversity action plan steering group, which will be a partnership between central and local government, the conservation agencies, scientific and academic institutions and voluntary bodies. The group will have four specific remits in overseeing :
the development of range of specific costed targets for key species and habitats for the years 2000 and 2010 to be published in European Nature Conservation Year 1995 ;
a working group already established following the May Seminar designed to improve the accessibility and co-ordination of existing biological datasets, to provide common standards for future recording and to examine the feasibility in due course of a single UK Biota Database ;
the preparation and implementation of a public strategy which could :
support initiatives that enhance people's understanding of what is special about their local environment ;
Column 439encourage the creation of a network of community wardens ; support initiatives that promote local action to conserve and improve local biodiversity ;
the establishment of a review process for the delivery of the commitments contained in the plan.
In addition, the plan contains 59 action points and broad targets which take forward, accelerate and extend existing policies and programmes. A number of these are new commitments or initiatives, and I will write to the hon. Gentleman with details of these.
Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to inform the National Rivers Authority if phosphate removal will be required at Barnoldswick sewage treatment works.
Mr. Atkins : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will make an announcement in due course about those areas to be identified as sensitive under the EC's urban waste water treatment directive and which of the sewage treatment works discharging into them will be required to install phosphate removal equipment.
Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which are (a) the vulnerable zones designated under EC nitrates directive 91/676/EC and (b) the sensitive and less sensitive areas designated under EC urban waste water treatment directive 91/271/EC.
Mr. Atkins : My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Food will shortly be consulting about the areas proposed to be designated as vulnerable zones under the nitrates directive.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will make an announcement in due course about the areas to be identified as sensitive and less sensitive under the urban waste water treatment directive.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what future meetings he plans to hold with representatives of Barnet council in connection with contamination of land at Coppetts wood, Finchley.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 18 January, Official Report , column 565 , (a) on what date and by whom his Department was first made aware of contamination of land to be given in exchange for land required for the trunk road improvement east of Fallowden way and east of high road, Finchley, (b) on what date and to whom his Department first notified Barnet council that testing of the site would take place, (c) on what dates and by whom testing of the site took place, (d) on what date and by whom his Department was first notified of the results of the test, (e) on what date and to whom his Department notified Barnet council of the results of the test, (f) by what date his Department told Barnet council that it would require the council's response and (g) if he has now received the council's response ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : The contamination to which the hon. Member refers became apparent only after the exchange land certificate for this site had been issued. In these circumstances, the problem was a matter for the Department of Transport as the acquiring authority and the London borough of Barnet as the owner of the land. My Department has not been involved in any ensuing correspondence.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment his Department undertakes, or what information his Department requires from local councils, regarding condition, and possible contamination, of land when considering options for possible sites to be subject to exchange land certificates.
Mr. Atkins : The Department has to be satisfied that there has been compliance with the appropriate procedures and requirements under the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 before exchange land certificates are issued. It relies on the Department of Transport, as the acquiring authority, and the local authority to supply information about the condition and possible contamination of potential exchange land sites. Where trunk road proposals are the subject of a public inquiry and an exchange land certificate is sought, the Secretary of State will rely on evidence presented at the time about the condition and possible contamination of exchange land, as reported on by the inspector, in considering options for potential sites.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what instructions or advice of recommended procedure his Department issues to councils regarding allowing access by elected councillors to information provided by his Department to the council in relation to possible contamination of land within their wards ; if he will make representations to Barnet council regarding council officers' refusal to allow access to such information to councillors in connection with contamination of land at Coppetts wood, Finchley ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : My Department has not issued instructions to local authorities on this. Authorities are independent, but must, of course, comply with the relevant law including the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985. We understand that the Department of Transport has sent a report of the tests on the Coppetts wood site to council officers to enable them to prepare their report to council members. The DOT said that council officers could show the report to Members.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish a list of all correspondence since January 1988 between his Department and the London borough of Barnet relating to (a) issuing of exchange land certificates in connection with the widening of the north circular road, east of Falloden way and (b) condition and possible contamination of land at Coppetts wood in Finchley ; what was the date of each piece of correspondence ; who was the sender and recipient in each case ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he or officials from his Department met the Premier of British Columbia on his recent visit to the United Kingdom to discuss British Columbia's new forest practices code.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of state for the Environment (1) what representations he has received urging the encouragement of a proliferation of smaller, more local, rural housing associations ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) what representation he has received from the Association of National Parks, regarding the occupation of rural housing association homes ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir George Young : The Association of National Parks met recently to consider a report on housing in national parks and has written to me to draw a number of points to my attention, including the role of rural housing associations and the occupation of the homes they provide.
Eighteen rural housing associations are registered with the Housing Corporation, including one which registered during the past year. Despite the reduction that was necessary in the Housing Corporation's development budget for 1994-95, the corporation expects to maintain the target of 1,850 allocations for the rural programme next year. For the four years from 1989 -90 over 6,000 units were approved--some 800 above target.
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he intends to take to persuade the Governments of China and Taiwan to fulfil their obligations under CITES resolutions to enforce the ban on trade in rhinoceros horn.
The United Kingdom together with our European partners, fully supports the decision of the CITES standing committee to send technical and high-level delegations to rhino horn-consuming countries to assess the effectiveness of their efforts to combat illegal trade in rhino horn and to offer advice and assistance. We have contributed £5,000 towards the costs of the high-level delegation which has recently visited China and Taiwan. The Government will be represented at the standing committee meeting next month which will consider what further action should be taken in the light of the delegations' reports. We shall also continue our bilateral contracts with the relevant authorities.
The United Kingdom Government have taken a leading role in encouraging greater efforts to conserve rhinos. On 3 February my Department announced a grant of £60,000 towards a project co-funded by the European Commission and the Worldwide Fund for Nature to appoint a scientific officer to co-ordinate rhino conservation activities throughout Africa.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the environmental pollution consequences of the fire at Associated Octel's plant in Cheshire on 2 February.
Mr. Atkins : On the basis of their preliminary assessments, Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution has concluded that it is unlikely there are any significant environmental effects of the fire. HMIP will continue to keep the situation under review.
Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make it his policy to undertake a feasibility study into the re- introduction of a municipal homes construction programme, with particular reference to the Greater London area and other large conurbations.
Sir George Young [holding answer 9 February 1994] : The Government's policy is that housing associations should be the main providers of new social housing, while local authorities concentrate on their enabling role and on managing their existing housing stock. This diversifies the tenure of the social housing stock and helps to attract private finance to supplement public expenditure, so providing more homes.
Mr. Howard : Our police reform White Paper announced the Government's commitment to increase the number of special constables by 10,000 by the end of 1996. As a start, I am about to launch a new advertising campaign to recruit specials. The first phase of the campaign will begin in the north-west this April.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The Prison Service aims to hold in secure custody those committed to it by the courts. A massive prison building programme has contributed to this in recent years. Six new prisons are planned. All will be built to modern security standards to ensure the safety of the public.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : My right hon. and learned Friend has no specific plans to do so. He and I have regular meetings with the director general at which any issue relating to the operation of the Prison Service, including private sector involvement, may be discussed.
18. Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many offences were committed while on bail ; and how many offenders committed offences while on bail in each of the last five years and in each quarter of 1993 to date.
Mr. Maclean : The information requested is not, at present, available. Research evidence suggests that the proportion of persons granted bail by the courts who were later found guilty of offences committed on bail has remained at between 10 and 12 per cent. over the last few years. It seems likely, therefore, that at least 50,000 offences each year are committed by people on bail.
Mr. Maclean : The Home Office has commissioned more than 47 research projects on various aspects of juvenile crime since 1979. A report of research specifically into persistent juvenile offending will be published shortly.
Mr. Etherington : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many young people have been re-classified from young offender to adult who are at present in (a) Her Majesty's prison Frankland, (b) Her Majesty's prison Acklington, (c) Her Majesty's prison Holme House, (d) Her Majesty's prison Kirklevington, (e) Her Majesty's prison Full Sutton, (f) Her Majesty's prison Everthorpe, (g) Her Majesty's prison Durham and (h) Her Majesty's prison Haverigg.
Mr. Maclean : As my right hon. and learned Friend announced in Blackpool on 6 October 1993, the national standards for the supervision of offenders in the community will be reviewed to ensure that these sentences provide a proper punishment for offenders who receive them. These national standards cover supervision provided by local authority social services departments as well as by the Probation Service.
20. Mr. Cyril D. Townsend : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the planned expenditure for his Department for 1994 -95 and 1995-96 on police work resulting from the War Crimes Act 1991.
Mr. Charles Wardle : Provision for police specific grant will include £500,000 to support the Metropolitan police for their work in 1994-95 on the investigation of war crimes. I anticipate this work will be completed by the end of the next financial year.