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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 16 March 1994

HOME DEPARTMENT

Quangos

Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the number of quangos for which he is responsible ; how much in public funds has been given to each quango in each of the last three years ; what is the current staffing establishment of each quango ; and what it was five years ago.

Mr. Howard : Such information is contained in the publication "Public Bodies 1993" and earlier editions of the same publication. Copies of all editions are available in the Library of the House.

Self-financing Regulatory Authorities

Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many self-financing regulatory authorities his Department has set up since 1979 ; what was the annual running cost of each of the self-financing regulatory authorities in each of the last three years ; what is the current staffing establishment ; and what it was last year and two years ago.

Mr. Howard : No self-financing self regulatory authorities have been set up by my Department since 1979.

Rules and Regulations

Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many rules and regulations his Department has passed in each of the last three years.

Mr. Howard : The number of sets of rules and regulations signed by me or by previous Home Secretaries in each of the years 1991 to 1993 is as follows :


Calendar year |Rules        |Regulations  |Total number               

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

1991          |1            |19           |20                         

1992          |9            |25           |34                         

1993          |6            |15           |21                         

Criminal Justice

Mr. Hutton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions under section 31 of the Criminal Justice Act 1948 have been undertaken in each year since 1979 ; in what countries the defendants were serving ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean : Information on procedures instituted under section 31 of the Criminal Justice Act 1948, as amended by schedule 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 are not collected centrally by my Department.


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Animal Welfare

Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the statutes concerning the welfare of captive animals in terms of (a) circuses, (b) zoos, (c) pet shops, (d) breeding establishments, (e) kennels, (f) residential homes and (g) other.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The Protection of Animals Act 1911, as subsequently amended, governs the welfare of all captive and domestic animals. The following statutes provide additional safeguards in the individual sectors mentioned :

The Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925

The Zoo Licensing Act 1981

The Pet Animals Acts 1951 and 1983

The Breeding of Dogs Acts 1973 and 1991

The Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 regulates the keeping of such creatures in the home. Other principal animal welfare statutes are : The Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act 1937

The Docking and Nicking of Horses Act 1949

The Cockfighting Act 1952

The Abandonment of Animals Act 1960

The Animals (Cruel Poisons) Act 1962

The Riding Establishments Acts 1964 and 1970

The Farriers (Registration) Acts 1975 and 1977

The Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act 1988

West Midlands Police

Mr. Hawksley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the approved strength of the West Midlands police force in (a) 1979 and (b) 1993.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The establishment of the West Midlands police was 6,509 on 1 April 1979 and 6,977 on 1 April 1993.

Italy (Extradition)

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations Her Majesty's Government have received since 1980 from the Italian authorities to extradite suspected criminals and terrorists ; what has been his response ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean : Since 1980, the Italian Government have requested the extradition of 67 people from the United Kingdom, for a wide range of offences.

Of these, 61 were accused of the offences for which their extradition was requested and six had been convicted. Sixteen of those sought have been returned to Italy, eight requests have been refused and 12 remain outstanding. Of the remainder, either the requests were subsequently withdrawn, or the person sought could not be traced here or was arrested in another country or was deported from this country. In one case, the person sought committed suicide before the conclusion of the proceedings.

Fines (Non-Payment)

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were imprisoned for non-payment of fines and other debts who were legally represented at the hearing at which they were imprisoned in the most recent year for which records are available.

Mr. Maclean : Information on the number of people legally represented at specific types of hearings is not collected centrally.


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Forensic Psychiatric Service

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what considerations underlie the timing of the changeover of funding of the forensic psychiatric service in Doncaster to the Prison Service.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Mr. D. Lewis to Mr. Martin Redmond, dated 16 March 1994 :

The Home Secretary has asked me, to reply to your recent Question about Prison Service funding of psychiatric services in Doncaster. There are no plans to change the way in which the Forensic Psychiatric Service for prisoner patients is funded. Medical treatment of prisoners transferred to an outside hospital is funded by the District Health Authority in whose area the prisoner resided before imprisonment.

The three establishments in the Doncaster area, Lindholme, Moorland and Hatfield, contract in and pay for a visiting consultant psychiatrist. The Prison Service receives no funds from the District Health Authority in support of this service.

Agency Chief Executives

Mr. Radice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many agency chief executives in his Department are currently paid more than £82,925, excluding performance-related bonuses ; and whether such chief executives were recruited directly to their present post from outside the civil service.

Mr. Howard : One, who was recruited directly from outside the civil service.

Management Systems

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much his Department's computer-aided facilities management systems cost ; from whom they were purchased ; how many person hours were required to commission them ; what the estimated and actual saving has been from their operation ; and to what extent the use of such systems accounts for the apparent rise in theft noted in his answer to the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) of 16 February, Official Report, column 804.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The Department has no computer-aided facilities management systems in place.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Sex Discrimination Tribunals

Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make legal aid available to women appealing to industrial tribunals in cases of sexual discrimination.

Mr. John M. Taylor : There are no plans to extend full civil legal aid to any type of case before an industrial tribunal. However, legal advice and assistance under the green form scheme is available to those who are financially eligible.


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Agency Chief Executives

Mr. Radice : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many agency chief executives in his Department are currently paid more than £82,925, excluding performance-related bonuses ; and whether such chief executives were recruited directly to their present post from outside the civil service.

Mr. John M. Taylor : Neither of the chief executives of HM Land Registry and the Public Record Office, the agencies for which the Lord Chancellor has responsibility, is paid more than £82,925 per annum excluding performance-related bonuses.

The current chief executive of HM Land Registry was appointed from within the registry after open competition. The current chief executive of the public Record Office was formerly director of special collections at the British Library.

CHURCH COMMISSIONERS

Dividend Stripping

Mr. Frank Field : To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners, if the Commissioners have been involved in dividend stripping as distinct from any gilt stripping activities ; and if he will list the gains from such activity in each of the last five years?

Mr. Alison : The amounts shown in my answers of 25 February and 4 March on the subject of gilt stripping represented the differences between interest on gilts calculated on the receipts basis and interest calculated on the accruals basis. No such alternative bases apply to dividends from equities : in common with other investment funds, the Church Commissioners account for dividends on the receipt basis and consider it impractical either to account for dividends on the accruals basis or to recalculate with hindsight what the dividends would have been if calculated on this basis.

While the Commissioners continue to manage their investments with the intention of generating a high level of income, this is achieved in relation to their equities portfolio through the selection of appropriate investments.

TREASURY

Ways and Means Advances

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the interest currently paid on ways and means advances ; and for what reason he needs to pay any interest.

Mr. Dorrell : Most ways and means borrowing takes the form of surplus Exchequer moneys, which are used to minimise Government borrowing overnight. No interest is paid on such borrowing, though interest must be paid at market-related rates to attract ways and means advances from other sources.


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Taxation

Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the number and percentage of basic rate and higher rate taxpayers in (a) Lancashire, (b) Cambridgeshire and (c) the United Kingdom for the most recent year for which figures are available.

Mr. Dorrell : The table provides estimates for 1991-92, the latest available year for which information can be provided below the United Kingdom level.


Basic and higher rate taxpayers 1991-92                          

                Taxpayers liable    Taxpayers liable             

                at only basic       at higher rate               

                rate                                             

               |000s     |Per cent.|000s     |Per cent.          

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

Lancashire     |601      |95.2     |30       |4.8                

Cambridgeshire |326      |94.2     |20       |5.8                

United Kingdom |24,800   |93.9     |1,620    |6.1                

Sub-Saharan Countries (Debt)

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are his Department's plans for assisting sub-Saharan countries in meeting debt repayments to multilateral agencies ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nelson : The poorest countries benefit from the IMF's enhanced structural adjustment facility (ESAF), which provides highly concessional long-term assistance at an interest rate of only 0.5 per cent. in support of economic reform in the poorest countries. The United Kingdom has just announced that it will provide an extra £50 million to subsidise the interest rate of the ESAF successor facility, on top of our earlier contribution of up to £327 million ; over time the United Kingdom will contribute about one ninth of the subsidy required by ESAF.

These countries also benefit from concessional credits from the World Bank's International Development Association, to which the United Kingdom contributed £620 million at the last replenishment, which concentrates on lending to the poorest countries. They also have help meeting interest repayments on non-concessional loans to the World Bank through the bank's fifth dimension facility.

ENVIRONMENT

Water Charges

21. Mrs. Helen Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what consultations he is having with regard to future methods of paying for water.

Mr. Atkins : The basis of charging for water is a matter for the water companies. It is among the topics discussed at meetings with the Director General of Water Services and representatives of water companies.

Liverpool

22. Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the standard spending assessment and revenue grant provision as proposed for the city of Liverpool in 1994-95 ; and if he will undertake a complete review of the city's financial situation in consultation with Liverpool city council.

Mr. Curry : Standard spending assessments are calculated on principles applicable to all authorities, taking


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account of each authority's social, demographic and physical characteristics. Liverpool's SSA of £419 million for 1994-95 is equivalent to £875 per head, the third highest of any metropolitan district. The total external support for Liverpool that year, which includes revenue support grant, SSA reduction grant and redistributed non-domestic rates, will be £363 million, equivalent to £758 per head, again the third highest.

We look each year at the calculation of standard spending assessments. In the forthcoming round we will certainly bear in mind the points made by the city of Liverpool and by the hon. Member. It is for the city council to manage within the resources available to it : it would not be appropriate for me to intervene in the way implied in the question.

Homelessness

23. Mrs. Lait : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how he intends to stop further categories from jumping the homelessness housing queue.

Mr. Gummer : I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave earlier to my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady O. Maitland).

Municipal Housing Policy

24. Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on developments in Government policy on municipal housing.

Sir George Young : The Government are extending the benefits of competition in the provision of local authority services to council housing management, consulting on new proposals for access to local authority and housing association tenancies and introducing important new rights for council tenants.

Council Tax

25. Mr. Riddick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average increase in council tax bills for 1994-95.

Mr. Curry : The average headline council tax based on those authorities for which my Department has actual or provisional information shows an increase of 2.4 per cent. over the 1993-94 average.

30. Mr. Trend : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the top and bottom 10 council taxes so far declared.

Mr. Curry : The top and bottom 10 headline council taxes (band C, two adults) based on actual and provisional information where available are:


                       |1994-95 headline                 

                       |council tax                      

                       |(band C)                         

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

Highest 10 authorities                                   

Liverpool              |770                              

Manchester             |691                              

Newcastle upon Tyne    |686                              

Coventry               |669                              

Langbaurgh-on-Tees     |658                              

Salford                |658                              

Bristol                |652                              

Middlesbrough          |645                              

Hartlepool             |643                              

Kirklees               |635                              

                                                         

Lowest 10 authorities                                    

Westminster            |218                              

Wellingborough         |261                              

Wandsworth             |306                              

Isles of Scilly        |358                              

City of London         |368                              

Hambleton              |396                              

Tewkesbury             |398                              

Rochester upon Medway  |402                              

South Cambridgeshire   |408                              

Teesdale               |409                              

Rents

27. Mr. Winnick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to introduce legislation to limit the amount that property companies and private landlords can charge in residential rents.

Sir George Young : None.

Bathing Water Directive

28. Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are his current proposals for re-negotiating the EU Bathing Water directive.

Mr. Gummer : We will be examining the proposal for revision announced by the EC Commission on 16 February to assess how far it concentrates on essential quality and health parameters and is a framework directive meeting the requirements of subsidiarity, up-to-date science and cost-effectiveness.

Cardiff Bay Barrage

29. Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on his correspondence with his opposite number in the European Commission in relation to the Cardiff bay barrage and the EC Habitats Directive.

Mr. Atkins : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 1 March at column 643 .

Local Government, Staffordshire

31. Dr. Wright : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the review of local government in Staffordshire.

Mr. Curry : The Local Government Commission began its review of Staffordshire in December 1993, and interested parties have until 8 April to submit their initial proposals to it. The commission will then publish draft recommendations for consultation. In preparing its final report, the commission will take account of any representations made about the draft recommendations. The commission proposes to submit its final report and recommendations for Staffordshire to my right hon. Friend in the autumn.


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Single Regeneration Budget

32. Mr. Bill Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what consultations were undertaken in the development of the single regeneration budget.

Mr. Baldry : I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave earlier to the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen).

Compulsory Competitive Tendering

33. Mr. Luff : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about his plans for the application of CCT 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 columns 264-65 ; to my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) on 15 December 1993 at columns 733-34 ; and to my hon. Friend the Member for Havant (Mr. Willetts) on 21 January 1994 at columns 871-73.

Community Stadium, Southampton

34. Mr. Denham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to determine the appeal on the planning application for a new community stadium at Stoneham, Southampton.

Mr. Baldry : The appeals will be decided as soon as possible.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

35. Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many sites of special scientific interest there are in England and Wales ; and how many of these were created in the last 12 months.

Mr. Gummer : In England, at 3 March 1994 there were 3,775 SSSIs. This includes 45 sites notified or re-notified to date in the current financial year. I am advised by my hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, that there were 882 SSSIs, at 31 December 1993, in Wales. This includes 32 sites newly notified between 1 January and 31 December 1993.

Local Government Finance

36. Mr. Enright : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he intends to take to secure an independent inquiry into the comparative fairness of the standard spending assessment from one region to another ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Baldry : Standard spending assessments are calculated on a consistent basis using the same formulae for each authority. We carried out a thorough review of the SSA system for 1994-95 in partnership with the local authority associations.

The Audit Commission published a study of the SSA system in May 1993. The Environment Select Committee published its own report on SSAs earlier this year. The Government will publish their response to the Select Committee's recommendations later this month.


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Water Quality

37. Dr. Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he next plans to meet representatives of the water companies to discuss water quality.

Mr. Atkins : My right hon. Friend meets regularly with representatives of the water companies to discuss a variety of issues including water quality.

38. Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on United Kingdom compliance with EU water quality directives.

Mr. Atkins : The United Kingdom is committed to fulfilling its obligations under these directives.

Fraud and Corruption

39. Mr. Eastham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about fraud and corruption in local government.

Mr. Curry : It is the responsibility of local authorities themselves, both members and officers, to take measures to prevent and detect fraud and corruption in their affairs. The Audit Commission's recent report on probity in the public sector concluded that

"probity in local government is generally in good order". There is no room for complacency, however ; fraud and corruption are always to be condemned, wherever they occur.


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