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Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the (a) budgeted and (b) actual expenditure by his Department on (1) internal and (2) overseas travel by the President of the Board of Trade in 1992-93 after 11 April 1992 and so far in 1993-94.
Mr. Heseltine : The expenditure incurred by my Department from 11 April 1992 to 31 March 1993 on my domestic travel was £8,745, and on my overseas travel was £5,866. From 1 April 1993 to 8 February 1994 the equivalent figures were £8,727 on my domestic travel and £16,360 on my overseas travel. These figures do not include the cost to my Department of my car. My Department does not allocate budgets for travel by individual Ministers.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the total cost paid out to witnesses attending the Scott inquiry under the provisions available under the order 62, r 12(1) of the rules of the Supreme Court, by the costs branch of the Treasury Solicitor's Department ; and to whom such expenses have been paid.
Mr. Needham : To date, no expenses have been paid for legal costs to witnesses before the Scott inquiry.
Mr. Clelland : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what estimates he has made of the reductions in consumption of domestic fuel resulting from the imposition of value added tax.
Mr. Eggar : My Department has published a range of energy demand projections in "Energy Paper 59", a copy of which is in the Library of the House. Those projections showed domestic sector energy demand approximately 6 per cent. higher in 2000 than in 1990. The imposition of VAT on domestic fuels is expected, in the long run, to reduce domestic sector consumption of coal by about 2 per cent. and of electricity and gas by about 4 per cent. This takes no account of the effects of any offsetting measures.
Dr. Michael Clark : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about the outcome of the review of options for the future of the Accounts Services Agency.
Mr. Eggar : PA Consulting Group has completed its review of the options for the future of the Accounts Services Agency. In parallel, the Department has reviewed the scope for its financial accounting services to be met from the private sector, concluding that all but a small number of the services currently supplied by the agency could be contracted out, with appropriate safeguards.
I have accepted PA's recommendations that :
the proposal for a management-led employee buy-out should be declined, primarily because it was based on the assumption that competitive tendering was unnecessary. Competition is essential to ensure value for money ;
the agency should be moved into the private sector by competitive tendering of the services contract ; and
the contract should be offered with the expectation that the agency's existing staff and assets would be transferred to the successful bidder.
The agency needs the expertise, financial resources, and freedom of the private sector to be able to improve its efficiency and to take full advantage of market opportunities. Strategic contracting out has been chosen as the preferred route to achieve this because it focuses on the service contract to DTI, and it would enable more staff and assets to be transferred to the private sector. Substantially the same outcome would be achieved as if the alternative route of privatisation had been chosen, but at a lower cost and on a shorter time scale.
This course of action will allow the Department to obtain the best value for money in the provision of its financial accounting services. PA estimates that the saving could be 10 to 20 per cent. per annum. Up to 90 permanent staff could transfer to the contractor. This will ensure continuity in the supply of a core service to the Department. The agency will gain access to the expertise and financial resources of the private sector which will give the existing team the freedom to take advantage of market opportunities without the constraints of operating in the public sector. This will result in a better service to all its
Column 506customers and greater opportunities for its staff than would have been possible if the agency were to have remained in public sector ownership.
Dr. Moonie : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what guidelines he has produced for the research councils on the patenting of human genes ; what discussions he has had on this subject with his European counterparts ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Waldegrave : I have been asked to reply.
I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 1 February, Official Report, columns 619-20. This reply makes it clear that the Office of Science and Technology supports the policy of the Medical Research Council in not filing any further patent applications for human DNA sequences of unknown function. I am very happy to inform the hon. Member that the United States National Institutes of Health and the Medical Research Council have today agreed to withdraw their patent applications for cDNA sequences of unknown utility. The MRC, with the support of the Government, has always argued that these applications should not be granted. I welcome the co-operation between the United Kingdom and the United States on this important issue.
Mr. Eastham : To ask the President of the Board of Trade on what date British Aerospace advised the Minister of its intention to sell Rover to BMW ; and on what date the Minister notified the Japanese ambassador of this intention.
Mr. Sainsbury [holding answer 8 February 1994] : British Aerospace advised the Department in confidence of its decision in principle to sell Rover shortly after the BAe board meeting on 27 January and also subsequently, again in confidence, of the final decision shortly after it was made on 29 January. The Government did not notify the Japanese ambassador of BAe's decision.
Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give details of the block grants and rate support grant allocated to authorities in west Yorkshire for each year since 1983 ; and if he will list the services covered by the grants.
Mr. Baldry : The available information is set out in the table. The rate support grant was not a service-specific grant and nor is revenue support grant. Both were or are paid to support expenditure which local authorities incur in performing their functions and which but for these grants, and national non-domestic rates from 1 April 1990, would have to be met from local taxes.
Rate support grant £000s |1983-84|1984-85|1985-86|1986-87|1987-88|1988-89|1989-90 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- West Yorkshire |100,312|102,681|115,699|- |- |- |- Bradford |114,808|114,773|120,735|131,371|143,296|156,111|171,750 Calderdale |44,575 |44,901 |45,413 |51,968 |57,003 |59,959 |60,907 Kirklees |89,421 |91,640 |93,145 |106,650|118,107|126,061|124,237 Leeds |123,940|125,009|114,626|135,324|144,776|145,847|138,844 Wakefield |57,464 |58,598 |55,413 |62,971 |67,391 |67,608 |65,314 West Yorkshire Police Authority |- |- |- |23,268 |27,642 |37,051 |39,252 West Yorkshire Fire Authority |- |- |- |8,507 |9,284 |8,030 |10,165 West Yorkshire Transport Authority |- |- |- |4,728 |7,587 |5,208 |5,111
Block Grant £000s |1983-84|1984-85|1985-86|1986-87|1987-88|1988-89|1989-90 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- West Yorkshire |100,312|102,681|115,699|- |- |- |- Bradford |110,697|110,644|116,591|127,203|139,098|151,875|167,473 Calderdale |49,964 |43,277 |43,776 |50,314 |55,337 |58,277 |59,205 Kirklees |86,266 |88,460 |89,938 |103,406|114,827|122,739|120,865 Leeds |116,342|117,367|106,947|127,602|137,007|138,013|130,946 Wakefield |54,518 |55,631 |52,424 |59,951 |64,340 |64,517 |62,178 West Yorkshire Police Authority |- |- |- |23,268 |27,642 |37,051 |39,252 West Yorkshire Fire Authority |- |- |- |8,507 |9,284 |8,030 |10,165 West Yorkshire Transport Authority |- |- |- |4,728 |7,587 |5,208 |5,111
Revenue Support Grant £000s |1990-91|1991-92|1992-93|1993-94 --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bradford |157,783|172,080|236,612|237,755 Calderdale |39,873 |38,432 |66,937 |65,840 Kirklees |82,492 |82,049 |138,135|132,425 Leeds |137,665|141,144|242,216|232,336 Wakefield |45,037 |44,071 |87,128 |86,905 West Yorkshire Police Authority |- |- |- |50,369 West Yorkshire Fire Authority |- |- |- |24,101 West Yorkshire Transport Authority |- |- |- |- Notes: 1. Following the introduction of the community charge system in 1990 the rate support grant was replaced by the revenue support grant. 2. Block grants form part of rate support grant. Block grants ceased to exist following the introduction of the community charge system. 3. West Yorkshire was one of the metropolitan county councils abolished in 1986. Its functions were then passed onto the metropolitan districts, the police, fire and civil defence, and transport authorities. 4. Under the community charge system, 1990-91 to 1992-93, RSG was paid into the collection funds administered by the metropolitan districts. For this reason there were no figures for RSG to the police, fire and transport authorities. 5. Under the council tax system, transport authorities do not receive RSG.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 2 February, Official Report, column 799, if Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution will publish the monitoring results of the Eskmeals site to which he refers.
Mr. Atkins : The decision to publish the monitoring results of the Eskmeals site is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 2 February, Official Report, column 794, if he will set out the points on THORP raised with him on 16 December 1993 by the ambassador of the Irish Republic.
Mr. Atkins : No. Such communications between the United Kingdom and other Governments are treated in confidence.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the revised effluent discharge charging scheme launched by the National Rivers Authority.
Mr. Atkins : The NRA's original scheme of charging for discharges came into effect in July 1991. As promised at that time, we have now reviewed it in the light of experience and on the basis of full consultation. We concluded that, in general, dischargers were satisfied. However, some changes have been made which will result in lower bills for some dischargers, particularly smaller businesses. There will also be an allowance for seasonal discharges which will benefit camping and caravan sites in particular. The NRA's considerable efforts in improving efficiency mean there will be no increase in either the application charge or the annual charge factor for 1994-95. The new arrangements will be introduced on 1 April 1994 and run until 31 March 1999.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what study his Department has made of the extent to which estate agencies are refusing to deal with properties which are situated above the fifth floor in tower blocks bought under the right-to-buy legislation ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir George Young : None. The Department has no evidence to suggest this is a widespread problem. Research
Column 509has been commissioned into the scale and range of problems leaseholders of council flats have with service charges and resale of their dwellings. Preliminary data are expected shortly.
Sir Thomas Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of homes in the United Kingdom were owner- occupied in each year since 1987.
Sir George Young : Estimates by type of tenure of the stock of dwellings in the United Kingdom appear in "Housing and Construction Statistics, Great Britain". Figures of owner-occupied dwellings expressed as a percentage of total dwelling stock are shown in table 9.3 of the 1982- 92 annual edition for each year from 1987 to 1992. A copy of this publication is in the Library.
Mrs. Bridget Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps the Government have taken to implement the recommendations made in the first report of the Select Committee on the Environment of Session 1992-93, on forestry and the environment--HC, 1992- 93, No. 257.
Mr. Atkins : The Government have already imple-mented several of the Select Committee's recommendations, including the publication on 25 January of our response to the Rio forest principles, "Sustainable Forestry : The UK Programme". Other matters are under consideration. We will be providing the Select Committee with a follow-up report before the Whitsun recess.
Mrs. Bridget Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, how much public money was paid to private landowners in the last financial year as an inducement not to plant conifers ; what were the highest sums of money that were paid to landlords for not planting conifers ; and to whom these sums were paid.
Mr. Atkins : Within the last financial year no new management agreements which compensate landowners for not planting conifers have been made in England by English Nature. I will write to the hon. Member with details of any such payments made under existing management agreements.
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment has been made of the costs of any closure of the South Crofty tin mine in Cornwall on the environment, in particular the financial impact on the National Rivers Authority operation at Wheal Jane ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : The NRA does not expect any additional cost to its operations at Wheal Jane but, as contingency planning, is investigating what might need to be done to avoid pollution were South Crofty to close.
Mr. Gill : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the estimated net aggregate expenditure of (a) county councils and (b) district councils in the current financial year.
Mr. Baldry : County councils' and shire districts' budgeted net revenue expenditure for 1993-94 is £18,025 million and £3,202 million respectively.
Ms Harman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will meet a deputation of tenants from Gloucester Grove estate in Southwark ;
(2) if he will visit Gloucester Grove housing estate ;
(3) if he will make a statement about the estates action programme improvement of the Gloucester Grove estate in Southwark ; (4) if he will make a statement about phase 7 improvements to Gloucester Grove housing estate in Southwark ;
(5) how many of the blocks in the Gloucester Grove housing estate remain to be improved ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir George Young : Estate action improvements have been in progress on the Gloucester Grove estate since 1986-87. The Government have already made available £8.6 million of resources and have earmarked a further £8.85 million for phases 5 and 6 which are currently on site. These phases will be completed in 1996-97 and will complete the improvement of 10 blocks in total.
The London borough of Southwark submitted a bid for a further eight blocks to be included in the 1994-95 estate action programme. Competition for resources was extremely tight, with 47 bids for support in London alone, and it was not possible to support that bid this year.
At the end of phase 6, 19 blocks will remain unimproved. Future proposals for these blocks will form part of Southwark's proposed strategy for five council estates in the Peckham area. I hope that the proposed partnership between the borough, the private sector and housing associations will produce some imaginative proposals for improvements and a mixture of tenures on Gloucester Grove and the other estates.
I have visited Southwark estates on a number of occasions in recent years and spoke to tenants from Gloucester Grove at Southwark's housing investment programme presentation in October 1992. Efforts are now best directed towards drawing up realistic proposals within Southwark's strategy for the area.
Mr. Rendell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what recommendations were put forward with regard to Southport by the Local Government Commission prior to the beginning of the Lancashire review.
Mr. Baldry : It was the Local Government Boundary Commission, abolished in October 1992 and the Local Government Commission's predecessor, which conducted a review of the boundaries of Sefton metropolitan borough with West Lancashire and Wirral. In its final report, submitted in June 1992, report No. 664, it recommended only minor boundary changes. The Secretary of State accepted these recommendations and an order was made on 1 May 1993, with the boundary changes taking effect from 1 April 1994--SI 1206/93.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with representatives of Liverpool city council in respect of its standard spending assessment ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry : My hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Planning met a delegation from Liverpool city council, on 17 January, to discuss Liverpool's proposed standard spending assessment for 1994-95.
Mr. Marlow : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will set out the standard spending assessment and the expenditure levels for each shire county for each of the last eight years, the current year and his proposals for 1994-95 ; and if he will set out the percentage change in each case (a) between each year and (b) over the full range of years for which figures are available.
Mr. Baldry [holding answer 3 February 1994] : I have placed in the Library tables showing : standard spending assessments for the years 1990-91 to 1994-95 ; grant-related expenditure assessments for the years 1985-86 to 1989-90 ; and equivalent expenditure figures for the years 1985- 86 to 1993-94 for each shire county. Since comparisons cannot be made between GREs and SSAs, nor between equivalent expenditures under the two regimes, the percentage changess are given between each year, between 1985- 86 and 1989-90, and between 1990-91 and 1994-95.
Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if his Department or any agencies for which he is responsible has engaged the services of the firm Touche Ross or any of its partners since 1 July 1993.
Mr. Baldry holding answer 3 February 1994] : The Department of the Environment has engaged the services of Touche Ross since 1 July 1993 to a total value of £178,000.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what provision has been made for the public accountability of further education colleges incorporated under the provisions of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Boswell : The framework for the public accountability of colleges in the further education sector is set by the financial memorandum between the Department and the Further Education Funding Council, and the financial memoranda between the council and colleges. The financial memorandum between the Department and the council makes it clear that it is part of the duty of the chief officer of the council, as accounting officer, to satisfy himself that further education colleges have appropriate arrangements for financial management and accounting.
Under the financial memoranda between the council and colleges, colleges are required to provide the council with
Column 512audited accounts for each financial year. Each governing body must ensure that its college has a sound system of internal control and must appoint an audit committee and internal audit service for the college. The council may undertake examination of colleges' internal financial and management controls. Colleges' books and records are open to inspection by the council and by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
Mrs. Bridget Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what proportion of (a) primary schools and (b) secondary schools in London, Ofsted expects to inspect in the academic year 1993-94.
Mr. Robin Squire : The arrangements for inspecting schools under the Education (Schools) Act 1992 are a matter for Ofsted. I have asked Professor Sutherland to write to the hon. Member.
Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what further guidance will be given on schools' environmental management practices as indicated in the sustainable development strategy.
Mr. Robin Squire : The guidance promised in the United Kingdom strategy on sustainable development will be published later this year.
It will be in the form of a simple environmental audit scheme which the schools can carry out themselves to evaluate and improve the environmental impact of their school buildings.
Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) what plans he has for schools to have a policy for environmental education guaranteeing provision and continuity between different subject areas of the curriculum ;
(2) if he will make it his policy to encourage all schools to appoint a co- ordinator for environmental education ;
(3) if he will publish guidance to advise schools of good practice in teaching about care for the environment ;
(4) what plans he has for providing guidance to schools on delivering environmental education on biodiversity and sustainable development ;
(5) what plans he has to provide grants to voluntary bodies to produce teaching resources and facilities that promote the concept of sustainability declared at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.
Mr. Robin Squire : Provided that the statutory requirements are met, it is for the individual school to determine the character of its curriculum, its organisation and the mode of its delivery, taking account of any relevant information or advice produced by the Office for Standards in Education. Where environmental education is addressed through the statutory subjects of the national curriculum, content and continuity will be specified within the statutory documents. My right hon. Friend is giving priority to the revision of these documents and has no plans to publish additional guidance for schools on these matters. He does not publish curriculum resources and has no plans to fund voluntary or other bodies to do so. He prefers to provide
Column 513specific grant to support expenditure by schools on books, materials and equipment or teacher training, as they see fit to develop national curriculum provision.
Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what plans he has to ensure that within the school's inspection framework the responsibility of schools for raising awareness and understanding of the environment and conservation issues is subject to inspection and comment.
Mr. Robin Squire : Under the Education (Schools) Act 1992, registered inspectors conducting inspection of schools must report on the quality of education and standards achieved in schools in accordance with Ofsted's pubished framework for inspection. I have asked Professor Sutherland to write to the hon. Member.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what mechanisms exist to resolve any dispute or disagreements between the Further Education Funding Council and individual colleges, including disputes over levels of funding ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Boswell : In the first instance, my right hon. Friend would expect a college to pursue its concerns with the Further Education Funding Council ; in the last resort it could complain to the Secretary of State.
If the Secretary of State is satisfied that the Further Education Funding Council has failed to discharge its duties under the Education Acts, he may issue a direction to the council under section 57 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. If he is satisfied that the council is exercising its functions unreasonably, he may issue a direction under section 68 of the Education Act 1944, as applied by paragraph 9 of schedule 8 to the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. The Further and Higher Education Act 1992 also gives the Secretary of State power to issue general or special directions to the council. Special directions may, in particular, relate to the provision of financial support by the council in respect of activities carried on by a particular institution. The Secretary of State would expect to exercise this power only in very exceptional circumstances.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what is his policy on the publication of names and addresses of chairpersons and members of further eduction colleges incorporated under the provisions of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Boswell : Under the charter for further education, colleges are expected to publish the names of governors and how to contact them, which would normally be through the college. There is no expectation that governors' private addresses should be published.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what provisions exist for the independent monitoring of the financial situation of further education colleges incorporated under the provisions of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Boswell : Independent monitoring of the financial position of colleges in the further education sector is secured through the requirement in the financial memoranda between the Further Education Funding Council and colleges for the appointment of an audit committee, and also through the requirement on colleges to appoint external auditors. In addition, under section 53 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, colleges' accounts are open to inspection by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
Mr. Pope : To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many official engagements have been carried out in the last year by each Education Minister (a) in total, (b) at grant-maintained schools and (c) at local education authority schools.
Mr. Patten : The figures requested are as follows :
<1>Total numOf which: of official Visits to schools |visits |GM Schools ------------------------------------------------------- Secretary of State |76 |3 Baroness Blatch |52 |17 Mr. Forth |84 |1 Mr. Squire |73 |15 Mr. Boswell |136 |2 Total |421 |38 <1>The figures cover all Ministers' official engagements, including school visits, conferences, receptions, and other speaking engagements, such as those at official lunches and dinners.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what advice he will seek from the Chief Secretary to the Treasury about encouraging foreign visitors to London ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sproat : None. It is not for the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to advise on such matters of policy.
Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage who are the members currently appointed to the board of the Royal Armouries.
Mr. Sproat : The current members of the Royal Armouries board of trustees is as follows :
Lord Eden of Winton (Chairman)
The hon. Francis Plowden
Field Marshall Sir John Stanier
The Duke of Wellington