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Equipment Thefts

Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish a list of the equipment stolen from his Department in the last three years for which information is available ; and what was the approximate value of each item.

Mr. Howard : Equipment recorded as stolen from the Home Office during the past three years is as follows :


Equipment                                |Value              

                                         |£                  

-------------------------------------------------------------

1991-92                                                      

40 floppy disks                          |20.00              

Various IT items                         |2,050.00           

1 printer                                |1,200.00           

Various tools                            |3,500.00           

Gardening equipment                      |480.00             

Electrical equipment                     |1,935.00           

Cassette tape recorder and amplifier and                     

Video camera and video recorder          |1,700.00           

                                                             

1992-93                                                      

23 heat lamps                            |7,050.00           

1 lawn mower                             |250.00             

Various tools                            |910.00             

3 strimmers                              |500.00             

Rotary mower                             |504.00             

2 motor mowers                           |1,088.00           

Horsebox and tools                       |6,500.00           

1 computer                               |1,000.00           

Fax machine                              |230.00             

                                                             

1993-94 (to date)                                            

Trailer                                  |2,470.00           

3 strimmers                              |740.00             

Power washer                             |525.00             

Various tools                            |2,400.00           

Various equipment                        |410.00             

Combat 18

Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what reports he has received from the chief constable of West Yorkshire about police action being taken to stop Combat 18 from issuing publications inciting the public to make nuisance telephone calls ;

(2) what representations he has received about the activities and leadership of Combat 18 ; what complaints have been made under the Public Order Act or other legislation against Combat 18 ; what reports he has received about publications, issued by Combat 18, inciting the public to cause a nuisance against listed individuals and organisations ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Charles Wardle : My right hon. and learned Friend has received no reports from the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police about Combat 18. I understand that the Chief Constable has received a letter from the hon. Member and that he will be investigating the complaint it contains. The West Yorkshire Police have received no other complaints. My right hon. and learned Friend has received 10 representations from hon. Members and a number of letters from the general public about the undesirable activities of Combat 18.

Fire and Civil Defence Authorities

Mr. O'Hara : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what penalties are incurred by a fire and civil defence authority which exceeds its capping limit in the necessary pursuit of its statutory responsibilities ;

(2) what action he intends to take to ensure that the Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority is financially able to fulfil its statutory duties ;

(3) what was (a) the budgetary requirement and (b) the provisional standard spending assessment for 1994-95 of the Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Charles Wardle : Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority's budgetary requirement for 1994-95 is a matter for the authority. Its standard spending assessment for next year is £46.116 million. It is for the authority to set its budget taking account of all appropriate considerations


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including its statutory duties. Under the provisional capping criteria announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment on 2 December, Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority would be able to increase its budget by 1 per cent. Any major precepting authority which is required to set a substitute budget as a result of capping may be liable for any administrative expenses incurred by a billing authority as a consequence of that substitute budget.

Mr. O'Hara : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when the report of the inspection by Her Majesty's inspector of fire services of the Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority which took place on5 July 1993 was published ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) if he will make a statement on the value of annual inspections carried out by Her Majesty's inspectorate of fire services when its findings can be reversed by another inspection team within a period of five months ;

(3) in what circumstances the findings of an annual inspection by Her Majesty's inspectorate of fire services in respect of a particular authority may be reversed, following inspection by another team in the period before the next annual inspection ; and if he will make a statement ;

(4) what representations he has received about the inspection carried out by Her Majesty's inspectorate of fire services which reversed within five months his professional assessment of the establishment requirements of the Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The report of the special inspection of the Merseyside fire brigade which took place during the week commencing 5 July 1993 was published on 11 January. My right hon. and learned Friend does not accept that the report reverses the findings of Her Majesty's inspector of fire services' 1993 annual inspection of the Merseyside fire brigade. Annual inspections of fire brigades serve the purpose of reporting to my right hon. and learned Friend and informing the fire authority on how effectively the brigade concerned is carrying out its statutory functions.

The 1993 annual inspection of the Merseyside fire brigade identified a number of concerns about the way in which the brigade was carrying out its functions, and about its financial position. The special inspection was carried out in the light of those concerns, and of the concerns of the Merseyside fire and civil defence authority itself about the brigade's financial position in the 1993-94 financial year. The special inspection was carried out by a team led by the inspector who had conducted the 1993 annual inspection. The detailed findings of the special inspection reflect the fact that the enlarged inspection team, which included independent financial and accountancy consultants, was able to examine the brigade's organisation and effectiveness in considerably greater detail than is possible in annual inspections of fire brigades. My right hon. and learned Friend has received correspondence from a number of hon. Members about the special inspection.

Inspectorate of Fire Services

Mr. O'Hara : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will initiate a thorough audit of the role and functions of Her Majesty's inspectorate of fire services ; and if he will make a statement.


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Mr. Charles Wardle : No. My right hon. and learned Friend is satisfied that the role and functions of Her Majesty's inspectorate of fire services are appropriate and that the inspectorate carries them out effectively.

Police Duties

Sir Ivan Lawrence : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to define the core duties of the police service.

Mr. Howard : I have asked for a review of policing duties to be undertaken in consultation with the police service and police authority representatives. I share the concern of the police service that the extent of the burdens being placed on them needs examination. I have made it clear that I want to see a police service freed from non-essential tasks so that officers may have the time to concentrate on the tasks which really matter to the public. I shall want to listen very carefully to what the police have to say about the extent of the work they are asked to carry out, and how it might be organised differently.

I expect to receive a report on this exercise in the autumn. I shall consider the impact of any changes proposed on operational efficiency and the quality of service that the police offer the community. I shall also wish to consider how best to consult the public if any changes are proposed that would affect the police interface with the public.


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Remand

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for the latest year available, how many people were remanded in the west midlands area ; and how many were (a) black males and (b) black females.

Mr. Maclean [holding answer 15 February 1994] : Reliable information on the total numbers of defendants remanded in the west midlands is not available centrally. Neither is any regular information collected regularly on the ethnic origin of those proceeded against in court. Some information on the ethnic origin of those remanded in custody in the west midlands was given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Mr. Lloyd) in reply to a question from the hon. Member for Coventry, North-East (Mr. Ainsworth) on 25 January at columns 155-56.

Cannabis

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list for each police authority area, the number of people arrested for possession of cannabis in each year since 1989 ; and what percentage of those was (a) prosecuted and (b) cautioned.

Mr. Maclean [holding answer 2 February 1994] : Information on the number of persons arrested for possession of cannabis is not collected centrally. Information on the total number of persons dealt with for the offence of unlawful possession of cannabis, and the percentage of those persons who were cautioned, from 1989 to 1992, the latest year for which figures are available, is given in the table.


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Number of offenders, and percentage cautioned, for the offence of possession of cannabis, by police force area, United    

Kingdom,<1> 1989-92                                                                                                       

                       |Offenders |Percentage|Offenders |Percentage|Offenders |Percentage|Offenders |Percentage           

                       |1989      |cautioned |1990      |cautioned |1991      |cautioned |1992      |cautioned            

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Avon and Somerset      |128       |20        |158       |18        |744       |88        |890       |82                   

Bedfordshire           |76        |66        |219       |58        |297       |68        |217       |82                   

Cambridgeshire         |94        |73        |251       |44        |193       |48        |200       |72                   

Cheshire               |166       |45        |298       |12        |525       |46        |727       |64                   

Cleveland              |47        |64        |139       |59        |230       |67        |236       |67                   

Cumbria                |75        |23        |279       |10        |404       |28        |380       |37                   

Derbyshire             |61        |66        |240       |40        |191       |45        |243       |60                   

Devon and Cornwall     |255       |62        |849       |39        |659       |40        |781       |72                   

Dorset                 |29        |41        |139       |15        |159       |30        |292       |60                   

Durham                 |29        |38        |48        |27        |53        |25        |146       |48                   

Essex                  |335       |82        |717       |70        |889       |66        |850       |75                   

Gloucestershire        |112       |71        |280       |66        |415       |71        |470       |82                   

Greater Manchester     |476       |35        |1,035     |26        |1,104     |32        |1,066     |52                   

Hampshire              |349       |86        |596       |77        |558       |86        |268       |81                   

Hertfordshire          |77        |43        |337       |26        |603       |49        |518       |64                   

Humberside             |160       |61        |358       |55        |335       |60        |370       |56                   

Kent                   |214       |85        |221       |76        |562       |67        |586       |87                   

Lancashire             |180       |63        |546       |27        |520       |46        |600       |62                   

Leicestershire         |68        |54        |239       |34        |342       |51        |284       |67                   

Lincolnshire           |64        |64        |183       |32        |309       |44        |237       |38                   

Merseyside             |795       |78        |1,745     |53        |1,971     |48        |1,593     |54                   

City of London         |35        |86        |206       |75        |151       |75        |158       |86                   

Metropolitan Police    |8,403     |88        |13,386    |69        |12,393    |70        |10,950    |75                   

Norfolk                |93        |56        |365       |37        |412       |52        |497       |67                   

Northamptonshire       |51        |86        |134       |66        |214       |67        |347       |73                   

Northumbria            |142       |73        |209       |39        |227       |52        |364       |77                   

North Yorkshire        |61        |75        |123       |35        |76        |18        |164       |57                   

Nottinghamshire        |124       |65        |204       |56        |302       |56        |364       |59                   

South Yorkshire        |251       |69        |529       |64        |756       |67        |817       |69                   

Staffordshire          |52        |29        |226       |18        |287       |39        |280       |57                   

Suffolk                |177       |68        |320       |53        |465       |64        |488       |76                   

Surrey                 |184       |80        |474       |41        |644       |63        |451       |79                   

Sussex                 |166       |28        |742       |15        |788       |18        |677       |52                   

Thames Valley          |242       |62        |1,147     |39        |1,043     |55        |1,359     |68                   

Warwickshire           |134       |76        |271       |56        |280       |66        |281       |73                   

West Mercia            |46        |2         |250       |0         |450       |55        |507       |68                   

West Midlands          |287       |46        |1,174     |17        |1,013     |40        |539       |58                   

West Yorkshire         |115       |12        |859       |11        |488       |19        |595       |22                   

Wiltshire              |325       |92        |193       |66        |231       |68        |363       |75                   

England-other          |140       |80        |269       |70        |148       |82        |286       |96                   

                                                                                                                          

Dyfed and Powys        |53        |79        |194       |34        |284       |55        |465       |77                   

Gwent                  |12        |8         |192       |49        |166       |69        |254       |78                   

North Wales            |81        |26        |373       |20        |403       |53        |309       |59                   

South Wales            |243       |22        |505       |11        |323       |7         |292       |40                   

Wales-other            |0         |-         |2         |0         |4         |75        |10        |80                   

                                                                                                                          

RUC                    |44        |41        |110       |53        |69        |38        |129       |33                   

Northern Ireland-other |0         |-         |0         |-         |0         |-         |1         |100                  

                                                                                                                          

United Kingdom         |15,620    |75        |33,753    |48        |35,622    |54        |34,705    |63                   

<1> There is no cautioning in Scotland                                                                                    

Police Officers

Mr. Hain : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what were the number of police officers per 100,000 population for each year since 1979 for the South Wales, Thames Valley, Kent, Lancashire, Avon and Somerset and Hampshire police authority areas ; and what were the comparable totals for all non-metropolitan and Welsh non-metropolitan police authority areas.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Information on ratios of police officers to population levels are contained in the appendices to the annual reports of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, copies of which are in the Library.

ENVIRONMENT

Local Government Boundaries

17. Mr. Connarty : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what submissions he has received on the local government boundaries for Somerset and Dorset.

Mr. Curry : We have received a large number of representations about the Local Government Commission's recommendations for Somerset, Avon and Gloucestershire.

Submissions about the boundaries for Dorset are at present a matter for the Local Government Commission, which began its review of the area on 13 December 1993.

Council House Rents

18. Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what changes have taken place since 1979 in real terms in the average rent per dwelling per week of council houses.

Sir George Young : The average weekly rent for local housing authority dwellings in England increased from £6.41 in April 1979 to £33.50 in April 1993, an increase of 98 per cent. in real terms.

London Policy

19. Mr. Congdon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what responses he has had to the consultation document on London policy.


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Mr. Gummer : Approximately 10,500 completed questionnaires from "London--Making the Best Better" have been returned and I have also received over 250 letters in response to the publication.

City Challenge (Leicester)

20. Mr. Jim Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the progress of the city challenge project in Leicester so far ; and what communication he has received from board members or employees of city challenge which may cast doubt on its future success.

Sir George Young : My Department has monitored the progress of the Leicester city challenge action plan since it was approved last March. A mid-year progress review meeting in October identified a number of problem areas which required action. These issues will be discussed further at the formal annual review on 28 February with the sponsor Minister, my hon. Friend the Minister for Trade and Technology. Future funding will depend on the outcome of the annual review.

Cash Incentive Scheme

21. Mr. Betts : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the operation of the cash incentive scheme.

Sir George Young : Cash incentive schemes grants are a cost- effective measure which enable local authorities to improve the supply of affordable housing for rent to people in need. They also provide a boost to the housing market. Since its introduction in 1989 the cash incentive scheme has created over 8,000 vacancies by reletting, and enabled the same number of households to buy their own home.

Building and Construction Industry Activity

22. Sir Michael Neubert : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his latest assessment of activity in the building and construction sector and prospects for the short and medium term.

Mr. Baldry : There are some grounds for optimism in the construction industry. The fall in output has halted. New orders are enjoying their best period of growth for years, with figures for the three months to December up 34 per cent. against the previous year.


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Plymouth (Regional Sub-office)

23. Mr. Hicks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will establish an integral regional sub-office in Plymouth ; and if he will make a statement.

Sir George Young : We will consider this and other possibilities for the location of the new integrated regional offices in the South West.

EC Water Directives

24. Ms Quin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement concerning the future of the EC bathing and drinking water directives.

Mr. Atkins : The European Council in December asked the Commission to bring forward as soon as possible four framework directives to replace parts of existing Community water legislation. These would include replacements for the drinking and bathing water directives. I understand that the Commission today agreed the text of a proposal for a revision of the Bathing Water Directive. The United Kingdom fully supports the move towards updating Community water legislation. We will now be examining the proposal to ensure that it meets the requirements of subsidiarity, up-to- date science and cost-effectiveness, and that it reorients the new directive towards essential quality and health parameters.

Social Housing Sector

25. Mr. Jonathan Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals he has for extending shared ownership in the social housing sector.

Mr. Gummer : The Housing Corporation's Approved Development Programme for 194-95, announced in December of last year, will provide £191.1 million for shared ownership schemes. This is expected to rise to £316.6 million in 1996-97. This will represent 21 per cent. of the Housing Corporation's Approved Development Programme compared with only 7 per cent. in 1992-93.

The Housing Corporation estimate that this will enable them to provide between 8,500 and 10,500 new homes under shared ownership in 1994-95 rising to between 11,700 and 13,900 by 1996-97. In many cases existing housing association and local authority tenancies will be released for reletting to people in housing need.

Local Authority Housing

26. Mr. Skinner : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many local authority dwellings have been built in the last year, to the latest possible date ; and what were the comparable figures for 1978.

Sir George Young : Provisional figures show that in England in 1993 there were 1,200 housebuilding completions for local authorities. The comparative figure in 1978 was 83,700.

Housing associations are now the main providers of new social housing. 57,600 units of new provision made available with Government help are forecast for 1993-94, compared with 23,800 in 1978-79. Local authorities also sponsor housing associations, and so far in 1993-94 4,400 units of new provision have been made available in this way.


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The number of new local authority and housing association lettings in 192-93 was, at 321,000, almost the same as in 1978-79, when there were an estimated 323,000.

35. Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how his proposals in the consultation document "Access to Local Authority and Housing Association Tenancies" will help local authorities carry out their duties under the Children Act 1989.

Mr. Gummer : As the consultation paper makes clear, providing suitable accommodation for families will remain a priority for housing authorities.

36. Mr. Fatchett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many organisations have been invited to respond to his Department's consultation paper, "Access to Local Authority and Housing Association Tenancies".

Mr. Gummer : I refer the hon. Member to the answer that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing, Construction and Inner Cities gave to the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle) on 9 February at column 299.

Local Government Finance

27. Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the representations he has recently received from local authorities on the standard spending assessments.

Mr. Curry : During the recent period of consultation on the provisional revenue support grant settlement for 1994-95 we received representations on a wide range of issues from 142 local authorities. My right hon. Friend considered carefully all those representations and any other relevant information before taking his final decisions on the revenue support grant settlement for 1994-95.

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will meet the leaders of Liverpool city Council to discuss the standard spending assessment for 1994 ; 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 their provisional standard spending assessment for 1994-95. My right hon. Friend considered carefully all the representations made to him, including those from Liverpool, before taking final decisions on the revenue support grant settlement for 1994-95, which was approved by the House on 3 February.

Hedgerows

28. Mr. Gapes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what measures he intends to take to provide enhanced protection against removal of hedgerows.

Mr. Atkins : The Government are committed to bringing forward measures for the protection of hedgerows when parliamentary time permits.

Compulsory Competitive Tendering

29. Mrs. Lait : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he has taken to encourage councils to extend compulsory competitive tendering to as wide a range of services as possible.


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Mr. Baldry : We have already announced a detailed programme for extension of CCT to local authorities' professional and corporate services, to housing management, and to three further blue-collar services. I would encourage authorities to open up their services to competition wherever possible, and I am gratified to see that an increasing number of authorities are voluntarily subjecting a wide range of services to competitive tendering, ahead of the statutory timetable.

32. Mr. Trend : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about his plans for the application of compulsory competitive tendering to housing management.

Sir George Young : I refer my hon. Friend to the answers I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. Banks) on 26 November 1993 at column 264 ; to my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) on 15 December 1993 at column 733 ; and to my hon. Friend the Member for Havant (Mr. Willets) on 21 January 1994 at columns 872-73.

Ofwat

30. Mrs. Helen Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will next meet the Director General of Ofwat, to discuss water disconnections and compulsory metering of domestic households.

Mr. Atkins : I shall be having a meeting shortly with the Director General of Water Services to discuss matters of a current mutual interest.

34. Mr. Riddick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he last met representatives from Ofwat to discuss water charges.

Mr. Atkins : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State met Mr. Byatt, the Director General of Water Services, on 26 July 1993 to discuss Mr. Byatt's periodic review of water price limits.

Local Government Review

31. Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with the Local Government Commission for England concerning the progress of the local government review.

Mr. Curry : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State holds regular meetings with Sir John Banham, the chairman of the Local Government Commission, to discuss all local government reorganisation issues, including the commission's progress. My right hon. Friend last met Sir John formally on 18 January 1994. I last met Sir John on 8 February.

Housing Association Houses

33. Mr. Jamieson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his Department's latest estimate of the number of new housing association houses to be completed in 1993-94, 1994-95 and 1995-96.

Sir George Young : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Members for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Burden) and for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) earlier today.


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Water Pollution

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the landfill sites in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk where the pollution inspectorate or the National Rivers Authority have detected pollutants and dangerous chemical substances in nearby groundwater since 1991.

Mr. Atkins : Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 the licensing and monitoring of landfill sites is the responsibility of waste regulation authorities, in this case Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk county councils. Where the NRA has carried out monitoring, relevant results are available on the public register for the NRA's Anglian region.

Species Action Plans

Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the basis of his estimate of a period of 10 years in order to complete and put into implementation the species action plans.

Mr. Atkins : The commitment to complete and put into implementation plans for at least 90 per cent. of the presently known globally threatened and threatened endemic species within the next 10 years was agreed with the territorial Departments and the statutory conservation agencies as a target which was achievable by the United Kingdom as a whole. It may prove possible for some countries, such as England, to improve upon this timescale.

Biodiversity Action Plan

Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what changes in Government energy policy will follow from the linkage of energy use and biodiversity conservation expressed in the biodiversity action plan.

Mr. Atkins : The Government's energy policy aims are already pursued in the context of other Government policies and commitments including those relating to the environment. The biodiversity action plan will inform the further development of these policies.

Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received following his announcement on THORP on 15 June 1993.

Mr. Atkins : My right hon. Friend has received a number of representations.

Recycling

Mr. Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list those local authorities who (a) submitted and (b) did not submit to him a draft recycling plan by January 1994 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : All English local authorities apart from Brent and Wolverhampton have submitted a draft recycling plan.

The Secretary of State for the Environment is considering the use of his powers under section 49(7) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to require those authorities to produce a draft plan.


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All Scottish and Welsh authorities apart from :

Caithness

Dunfermline

Lochaber

Motherwell

Nairn

Sutherland

Western Isles

Wigtown

Alyn and Deeside

Brecknock

Radnorshire

have submitted draft recycling plans. My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales are responsible for the submission of recycling plans in Scotland and Wales respectively.


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