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Rail Services (Wales)

Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations regarding rail services he has received from local authorities in Wales during 1994.

Mr. Freeman : I have received a number of representations covering a wide range of issues relating to railways in Wales including those from Clwyd county council, Gwynedd county council, Dyfed county council, and Maesteg town council.


Housing, Doncaster

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his assessment of the impact of the Budget on housing in the Doncaster area.

Sir George Young : Householders in Doncaster, and throughout the country, have benefited from the steady reduction in interest rates over the last few years, from the new opportunities for home ownership that we are creating through rent to mortgage and the expansion of cash incentive schemes which release housing for those in greatest need ; and from the prudent approach to public finances and the sound basis for economic growth which my right hon. and learned Friend set in place in his Budget.

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As far as housing expenditure is concerned, significant reductions were made at a national level in provision for both local authority and housing association capital expenditure. Doncaster has, however, benefited from our policy of taking account of performance in allocating resources : our assessment that its performance improved from average last year to above average this year has been reflected in its increased share of regional resources, from 4.1 per cent. in 1993-94 to 4.5 per cent. in 1994-95. The authority's basic housing investment programme allocation in 1994-95 is £5.3 million. In addition, Doncaster has been allocated £1.5 million in 1994-95 to continue work on the Stainforth estate action scheme, which when complete will have attracted £9.1 million in additional resources from the government. Doncaster could benefit from the in-year reallocation of specified capital grant resources for private sector renovation, as it has in previous years. The total Housing Corporation programme, including the tenants incentive scheme and do-it-yourself-shared-ownership will enable 197 units to be provided in 1994-95. The actual effect of housing allocations will depend on local decisions and priorities.

I hope to see Doncaster and all local authorities making maximum use of the opportunities for drawing private finance into housing, developing partnerships with the local private rented sector, and involving all those with a contribution to make in their efforts to tackle local housing need.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Jopling : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the size of the outstanding debt for each local authority for which he has responsibility, together with any balances from capital receipts which have not been used to reduce debt ; and what are the annual costs of servicing the debt, together with income from the balances.

Mr. Baldry : The available information has been placed in the Library of the House.

London (Consultation Document)

Mrs. Roche : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he plans to publish the information received from his recent consultation document on London.

Sir George Young : We aim to publish a digest of responses later this month.


Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has on the assets (a) in total and (b) per head of population of (i) Manchester, (ii) Birmingham, (iii) Lambeth, (iv) Southwark, (v) Liverpool, (vi) Hackney, (vii) Leeds, (viii) Sheffield, (ix) Haringey, (x) Newham, (xi) Lewisham, (xii) Newcastle-upon-Tyne, (xiii) Salford, (xiv) South Tyneside, (xv) Coventry, (xvi) Hammersmith and Fulham, (xvii) Bristol and (xviii) Wakefield.

Mr. Baldry : No information is currently available on the capital value of assets held by individual local authorities.

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Private Residential Homes

Mr. Corbett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to the answer of 18 March, Official Report, column 890, if he will list those concessions and rebates applicable to residents of private residential homes under the Rating (Disabled Persons) Act 1978.

Mr. Baldry : Section 2 of the Rating (Disabled Persons) Act 1978 sets out the rebates which could be granted to the occupier of institutions for the disabled in England and Wales for years up to and including 1989- 90. Full rebates in respect of rates chargeable were granted in respect of hereditaments used for the purposes set out in section 2(2) of the Act. The hereditament must have been used either wholly for one or more of the purposes listed, or partly for one or more of the purposes listed and partly for ancillary purposes.



Sir Thomas Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his policy towards Malta's application to join the EC.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : We have welcomed the prospect of Maltese accession. The Commission's opinion on Malta's application identified institutional problems that would have to be addressed and a number of Maltese economic reforms that would be necessary before they can become members of the EU. In the interim, and before accession negotiations begin, the Government are looking at ways of maintaining a dialogue with the Maltese about accession matters.

Foreign Affairs Council

Mr. Nigel Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council held on 22 March.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and I attended the Foreign Affairs Council held in Brussels on 22 March.

The Council discussed the qualified majority voting arrangements which will apply once the EFTAn applications have joined the European Union. We again emphasised the need to ensure the adequate protection of significant minorities in the Council and the democratic legitimacy of Community decision-making. Our Spanish colleagues supported us. Other Ministers continued to argue that the qualified majority should be kept constant as a proportion of the total number of votes after enlargement. It was not possible to find a solution to this question. The matter will probably be discussed again at the informal Foreign Affairs Council on 26-27 March.

The number of seats on the European investment bank management committee after enlargement was also discussed, but no agreement reached.

The Council reached agreement on the remaining non-institutional aspects of the accession negotiations. Political agreement was reached on a declaration on less-favoured area coverage for Finland and Swedish access to Baltic cod.

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There were no formal votes.


Procurators Fiscal

Mr. Donohoe : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement indicating, for each of the procurators fiscal in Scotland, in how many cases involving a fatality the procurator fiscal has decided to take no further proceedings in each of the last five years.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The information is not readily available and could not be obtained except at disproportionate cost.

Common Services Agency

Mr. Kynoch : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what are his plans for the future of the building division of the Common Services Agency ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lang : The Government are committed to a publicly funded health service with national health service units firmly within the public sector. However, health service managers should concentrate their skills on core activities of the NHS, using their expertise to seek best value for money in the provision of non-core services. The work of the building division of the Common Services Agency (CSA) is a non-core activity and its ability to adapt and to develop the skills and services that it can provide in a changing world is constrained within the public sector. Following a review of the options for the future, my noble and learned Friend and I have agreed in principle that the opportunity should be taken to invite tenders for a management buy-out or from the private sector to take over the business as a going concern.

The CSA board has been asked to consider how this can be taken forward and to draw up an implementation plan. A prospectus will be issued by the board. When all bids received have been evaluated, the board will make recommendations to my noble and learned Friend.


Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next expects to meet representatives of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation to discuss fishing management for the Scottish inshore fleet in the North sea.

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Sir Hector Monro [holding answer 14 March 1994] : I meet representatives of the SFF regularly, but have no current plans for a meeting. Discussions about fish conservation have been held between Scottish Office officials and representatives of the SFF, and further discussions may be necessary in due course.

Wild Birds

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list details of all current licences issued to kill wild bird species, including the premises and the wild bird species concerned.

Sir Hector Monro [holding answer 24 March 1994] : The information requested is as follows :

Species                        |Premises                      |Number                                                       




Cormorant                      |Fish farm/Put and take fishery|8                                                            

Goosander                      |District Salmon Fisheries     |1                                                            


Goosander/Cormorant            |DSFB/Put and take fishery     |4                                                            

Goosander/Red-breasted         |DSFB                          |2                                                            


Goosander/Red-breasted         |DSFB                          |8                                                            


Red-breasted Merganser/        |DSFB                          |2                                                            


Goose, Barnacle                |Croft/farm                    |2                                                            

Goose, Greyleg/Pinkfoot        |Croft/farm                    |34                                                           

Raven                          |Croft/farm                    |2                                                            

Pigeon, Feral/Sparrow,         |Shops/warehouses              |30                                                           


Sparrow, House                 |Shops/warehouses              |15                                                           

Disabled Employees

Mrs. Roche : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many registered disabled people are employed in his Department ; and what percentage this is of the total.

Mr. Lang [holding answer 23 March 1994] : There are 81 registered disabled people--1.3 per cent. of staff--who are recorded as employed in my Department. However, in a recent anonymous staff survey about disability in the workplace, which covered an additional 2,058 Scottish Office staff in associated departments and on loan and secondment, 131--(1.6 per cent.--indicated that they were currently registered disabled.


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