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Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Admiral Jonathan Howe, head of UNOSOM, has visited Somaliland ; what promises of assistance were given ; and what has actually been delivered by UNOSOM.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Admiral Howe visited Berbera in north-west Somalia on 6 November 1993, and committed UNOSOM to provide more than $3 million for strengthening the police, prison and judicial services, and for the provision of administrative kits to help local administrative structures improve their operations in north-west Somalia.
This money has been allocated, but UNOSOM is not yet able to provide a summary of how much has been disbursed.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will press the United Nations to increase the resources of the Office for Project Services division of the United Nations Development Plan in Somaliland to assist the reintegration of former militia into a peaceful society.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The United Nations attaches importance to the early reintegration of former militia into a peaceful society. OPS is, however, an implementing agency which performs services for the United Nations system and governments on a cost-reimburseable basis. Any expansion of projects under way would depend on the availability of additional donor finance.
Sir Dudley Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made since the NATO summits of the diligence and application being shown by those responsible for setting up the combined joint task force and the infrastructure for "Partnership for Peace" ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Work was set in hand to develop the combined joint task force concept and the "Partnership for Peace" initiative immediately after the NATO summit in January. Considerable progress has already been made. I have no reason to doubt the diligence and application of those responsible for this work.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the British Medical Association and Department of Health will be consulted on the health effects of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : As I said in my answer on 1 February, c. 605, our submission to the International Court of Justice will set out the position of the Government on this question. We shall therefore be consulting relevant Government Departments.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 1 February, Official Report, column 605, when he will be making his submission to the International Court of Justice on the legality of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 1 February, Official Report, column 605, whether Her Majesty's Government's submission to the International Court of Justice on the legality of nuclear weapons will be published in advance.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 1 February, Official Report, column 605, what consultations he will hold before submission of Her Majesty's Government's report on the legality of nuclear weapons to the International Court of Justice.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 1 February, Official Report, column 605, if his submission to the International Court of Justice on the legality of nuclear weapons will support the legality of (a) the use and (b) the possession of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 1 February, Official Report, column 605, whether Her Majesty's Government's submission to the International Court of Justice on the legality of nuclear weapons will be laid before the House of Commons.
Column 550missions in (a) Madedonia, (b) Georgia, (c) Estonia, (d) Latvia, (e) Moldova, (f) Tajikistan, (g) Nagorno-Karabakh and (h) Kosovo, Sandjak and Vojvodina.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : CSCE missions can make an effective contribution to promoting stability and containing the spread of conflict. They complement the work of the CSCE's high commissioner on national minorities and office for democratic institutions and human rights. I welcome the appointment of Richard Samuel, a recently retired member of the diplomatic service, as head of mission to Moldova. A note prepared by the CSCE unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, giving details of the objectives and current status of CSCE missions, has been placed in the Library of the House.
Sir Dudley Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the current United Kingdom relations with Poland ; when a senior Minister of the Crown last visited that country ; and what significant visits by Ministers are planned during the next 12 months.
The last visit to Poland by a senior Minister was that of my right honourable and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor in October 1992. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister visited in May 1992. His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales paid a visit in May 1993 and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh in September 1993.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs hopes to visit Poland this spring. Other high-level visits are under consideration.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Agreement for the construction of separate accommodation for Anguilla's House of Assembly features in the country policy plan--CPP--signed between the Government of Anguilla and ourselves in August 1993. The relevant section of the CPP calls for the drawing up of detailed plans for the building in the financial year 1994-95, with construction scheduled to commence the following year.
Column 551Iraq to provide a list of British companies thought to have provided Iraq with military equipment or dual-use technology ; and what examination he has made of the German submission to UNSCOM on the German companies' contribution for arming Iraq since its publication by UNSCOM.
Mr. Douglas Hogg [holding answer 25 February 1994] : We have received no such requests from the special commission. However, we co- operate closely with UNSCOM and the International Atomic Energy Authority on questions of supplier information and investigate where the evidence warrants it.
I am not aware of any publication by UNSCOM/IAEA on the German contribution to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme.
Sir Jerry Wiggin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the cost of the commission for Local Administration in England in each of the last three financial years and in the first six months of the present financial year.
|£ ------------------------------- 1990-91 |3,969,804 1991-92 |4,905,021 1992-93 |6,105,854 <1>1993-94 |3,219,800 <1> 1 April to 30 September.
Sir Jerry Wiggin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how long it has taken, on average, for the Commission for Local Administration to deal with individual cases in each of the last three years and in the most recent six months.
|Stage 1<2>|Stage 2<3> -------------------------------------------- 1990-91 |18.0 |69.5 1991-92 |17.0 |74.5 1992-93 |15.4 |70.5 <1>1993-94 |14.4 |65.0 <1> 1 August 1993 to 31 January 1994. <2> A stage 1 investigation is one where the complaint is examined but investigation is not pursued beyond the stage of considering the council's detailed comments on it. <3> A stage 2 investigation is one which proceeds with a view to the issue of a formal investigation report.
Mr. Raynsford : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many homeless households were temporarily accommodated in bed-and- breakfast hotels by each of the London boroughs, in rank order, at the latest available date.
Sir George Young : The numbers of households reported by the London boroughs in bed-and-breakfast accommodation at the end of September 1993, the latest date for which data are available, ranked by size are as follows :
London borough |Households |in bed-and- |breakfast |accommodation ----------------------------------------------------- Wandsworth |435 Tower Hamlets |322 Hammersmith and Fulham |240 Kensington and Chelsea |215 Westminster |210 Haringey |202 Barnet |188 Hackney |159 Lambeth |100 Enfield |82 Brent |78 Harrow |74 Hillingdon |67 Newham |45 Croydon |44 Hounslow |36 Bromley |34 Redbridge |21 Kingston upon Thames |20 Southwark |18 Sutton |16 Ealing |9 Merton |9 Bexley |6 City of London |4 Havering |0 Lewisham |0 Greenwich |0 Richmond upon Thames |0 Waltham Forest |0 Camden |0 Barking and Dagenham |0 Source: Quarterly P1E returns.
No return was received from Islington for this period.
The differences in the use of bed-and-breakfast accommodation reflect variations in authorities' practices and in the level of homeless acceptances.
Mr. Robert Ainsworth : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what agreement he reached with the Association of District Authorities on using nature of tenure as an indicator in the personal social services and the all-other services standard spending assessment ;
(2) what agreement he has reached with the Association of Metropolitan Authorities on using nature of housing tenure as an indicator in the personal social services and the all-other services standard spending assessment ;
(3) what discussions he has had with the Association of County Councils on using nature of tenure as an indicator in the personal social services and the all-other services standard spending assessment ; and what measure of agreement was reached.
Mr. Baldry : As part of the review of standard spending assessments for 1994-95 we discussed the inclusion of indicators of housing tenure in SSAs with representatives of each of the local authority associations. The main forum for these discussions was the SSA sub-group.
Column 553The decision to include indicators of the nature of housing tenure in SSAs was based on a statistical analysis which was discussed with representatives of each of the local authority associations in the SSA sub-group.
The report of the SSA sub-group for 1994-95 was considered by the Consultative Council for Local Government Finance on 12 October. This report contained a number of options for changes to SSA methodology requested by these local authority associations which included indicators of the nature of housing tenure. During consultation on the provisional revenue support grant settlement for 1994-95 none of the local authority associations listed made representations on the proposal to use nature of housing tenure as an SSA indicator.
Mr. Robert Ainsworth : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from local authority associations prior to his announcing the provisional revenue support grant settlement as to the use of nature of tenure as a proxy for disadvantage for the purpose of standard spending assessment distribution.
Mr. Baldry : Prior to the announcement of the provisional revenue support grant settlement for 1994-95, as part of the review of standard spending assessments, we discussed a wide range of possible changes in SSA methodology with representatives of each of the local authority associations. The use of indicators of the nature of housing tenure was considered as part of these discussions, which took place in the official level SSA sub-group.
The report of the SSA sub-group for 1994-95 summarises the papers presented to the sub-group and the points made by representatives of the local authority associations in the discussion which took place. I have placed a copy of this report in the Library.
Mr. Steinberg : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list by region the bed-and-breakfast hostels for the homeless that have (i) been opened and (ii) been closed in each yeare since 1990.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list for each of the last four years, and for the current year to date (a) the location and (b) the Richter scale measurement of earth tremors that have occurred in England ; and what structural damage was reported.
Column 554Reports have been received of minor damage caused to properties from seven of these earthquakes ; most widely from the so-called Bishop's Castle earthquake in western Shropshire on 2 April 1990 which had a magnitude of 5.1 on the Richter scale. Details are contained in annual bulletins and annual reports of the national seismic monitoring and information service operated by the BGS. Published copies for the first three years and draft material for 1993-94 have been lodged in the Library of the House of Commons.
Mr. Atkins : There is growing concern about the impact of Canada geese on the environment and last year my Department set up a working group to assess the need for and develop a strategy to manage the population. To assist the group's work the Government have commissioned research into whether the geese pose health problems and whether they interact adversely with the nesting and breeding success of native wildfowl. It is also proposed to commission research into population distribution dynamics and movement of the species, and to quantify damage caused by geese to amenity land in London.
Mr. Llwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total income received by each district council from the sales of council houses in each of the past five years ; what percentage of these have been reclaimed by his Department ; what is the projected figure, from each council, for the building of new council housing in the next financial year ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir George Young : Information on the total income received by each district council from the sales of council houses in the past five years will be placed in the Library of the House. None of these receipts is reclaimed by my Department. Under the capital receipts rules, local authorities are normally required to set aside 75 per cent. of their housing receipts to meet their debts. Figures for the building of new council housing in the next financial year
Column 555are not held centrally. Housing associations are now the main providers of new social housing, with local authorities concentrating on their enabling role and on managing their large stocks of existing council housing.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which of his Department's officials have attended the half-yearly dinners of the British Scrap Federation in each year since 1993 ; and what positions they held at the time.
Mr. Atkins : Although the British Scrap Federation hold half-yearly annual dinners in the spring and the autumn, it is only the autumn dinner that is normally attended by outside guests. Mrs. L. A. C. Simcock, head of waste management division in the Department, attended the dinner last November.
Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what changes have been made to the allocation of money for management agreements for English Nature ; what limits there are on the levels of payments for new agreements ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : My Department has recently provided English Nature with an additional £800,000 to spend on management agreements in the current financial year. Financial guidelines in accordance with section 50 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 provide the basis for calculating payments under individual agreements. These are currently under review and a consultation paper will be issued as soon as possible. In addition, English Nature is required to consult my Department where annual payments would be £40,000 or more or a lump sum payment of £250,000 is proposed.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment the quality of urban air review group has made of the relative disbenefits to the environment and human health of motor vehicles using (a) leaded petrol, (b) unleaded petrol, (c) diesel and (d) natural gas.
Mr. Atkins : The most recent report of the quality of urban air review group, "Diesel Vehicle Emissions and Urban Air Quality" was published on 28 January 1994 and copies have been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Nigel Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was (a) the average waiting time for appeals going to the council tax valuation tribunals and (b) the cost of valuation appeals for each English valuation tribunal area.
Mr. Baldry : It is not yet possible to say what is the average length of time taken to hear appeals, since a great many cases are being settled by agreement between the taxpayer and the Valuation Office Agency, and only a small proportion have been heard and determined by valuation tribunals.
Column 556The estimated average cost of processing a council tax appeal in the current financial year in England is £115. This estimate includes Valuation Office Agency and valuation tribunal costs.
Ms Lynne : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many households in Rochdale have appealed against their council tax banding ; and how many of these appeals have been accepted ; (2) how many households in Rochdale are still waiting to hear the results of their appeals against wrong council tax banding.
Mr. Robert Ainsworth : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects the review of powers and duties of public authorities relating to the identification, assessment and appropriate treatment of contaminated land and liabilities to be completed.
Mr. Atkins : My Department expressed concern about certain blocks which were of considerable importance to the marine aggregates industry. Our concerns were met and appropriate conditions were attached to those blocks which were included in the 14th licensing round.
Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what financial assistance the Government are giving to English local authorities to help them sign access agreements on privatised Forestry Commission land.
Mr. Atkins : No specific grants are available for this purpose, but considerable general financial support is provided to local government through revenue support grant. Local authorities determine for themselves how these resources are to be used.
Mr. Rendel : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what controls exist at present on the rents charged by housing associations ; and what plans his Department has to increase these controls in the future.
Sir George Young : The rents of secure housing association tenants-- those whose tenancy began before 15 January 1989--are controlled by the rent officer. The rents of assured tenants--those whose tenancy began after 15 January 1989--are set at the discretion of the housing association. For housing provided with public subsidy, all
Column 557registered housing associations are required by the terms of the tenants guarantee to set and maintain assured rents which are within the reach of people in low-paid employment. The corporation monitors rent levels and the financial efficiency of housing associations, and can take action where excessive costs might lead to high rent levels. My Department has no plans at present to increase these controls.
Mr. Baldry : The Government's policy on renewable energy, including wind energy, is set out in Planning Policy Guidancee note 22. Copies of this note were sent to all local authorities in England and Wales in February 1993.
Mr. Atkins : Bio-fuels can affect the global environment by influencing emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, other gaseous emissions, and reservoirs of carbon in soils and vegetation. My Department has commissioned research on greenhouse gas emissions from waste disposal including waste as fuel, on landfill gas production, and on gaseous emissions from engines driven by landfill gas. We are also undertaking research relevant to quantifying the effect of bio-fuels on United Kingdom carbon reservoirs.
This is a matter for the chief executive of the Meteorological Office, who will reply directly to the hon. Member.
Letter from J. C. R. Hunt to Mrs. Bridget Prentice, dated 25 February 1994 :
I am responding to your Parliamentary Question asking which regions of the United Kingdom have been most severely affected by storm damage for each year from 1982 to 1993.
All parts of the British Isles can be affected by storms. Notable storms in the period include 15/16 October 1987 (southern England), 13 February 1989 (Scotland) and 25 January 1990 (much of England and Wales). In general, the windiest places are exposed coasts and hills, particularly in northern and western