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Mr. Douglas Hogg : Officials have found no evidence to support the allegations of recruitment of United Kingdom mercenaries by the Azerbaijani Government. Any further information from hon. Members will be carefully considered and any evidence of illegal activity referred to the prosecuting authorities.
Mr. Dewar : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland for how many private sector tenancies regulated under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 a fair rent has been set by the rent review service at the latest date for which figures are available.
Mr. Lang : Fair rents for regulated tenancies are registered by the rent registration service under the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984. Fair rent registrations recorded on the rent register can date back to the 1960s and a high proportion will relate to dwellings which are no longer regulated tenancies, since changes in status are not reported to the rent registration service. As fair rents apply for a minimum of three years, unless there is a significant change of circumstances, the total number of fair rents registered during the last three years provides an approximate guide to the current number of regulated tenancies. The figures are as follows :
|Number --------------------- 1991 |15,554 1992 |12,411 1993 |12,163
Mr. McFall : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what consideration has been given to re-organising the arrangements for assessment and certification of (a) vocational and (b) non-vocational education in Scottish schools.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The policy document "Higher Still : Opportunity for All" sets out plans to draw together Scottish Examination Board--SEB--and Scottish Vocational Education Council--SCOTVEC--courses into a single curriculum and assessment framework. There will be a mixture of internal and external assessment. All passes will be presented on a single certificate.
Mr. McFall : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has considered instituting a points system to enable comparison between standard grades, highers, advanced highers and national certificate modules.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Our policy document "Higher Still : Opportunity for All" stated that we propose to consult those who use qualifications and awards about a possible points system to make clearer the compatibility and equivalences within the new system.
Mr. McFall : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what consideration has been given to merging the Scottish Vocational Education Council and the Scottish Examination Board ; and what representations he has received from Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and other interested bodies on this matter.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Our policy statement "Higher Still : Opportunity for All" stated that we will be examining options for the best relationship between SCOTVEC and SEB for the administration of the new awards. During consultation on the Howie committee
Column 208report on upper secondary curriculum and awards 73 respondents, including COSLA, commented on this matter.
Mr. McFall : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland which body will be responsible for assessing and issuing achievement certificates for the new highers, advanced highers and national certificate modules.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Arrangements for administering the new awards will be developed by the Scottish Office Education Department, SCOTVEC and SEB as part of the development programme for implementing the decisions announced in "Higher Still : Opportunity for All".
Mr. Lang [holding answer 31 March 1994] : We are still considering what changes should be made to this scheme. Officials from my department hope to meet representatives of the British Veterinary Association soon to take matters forward.
Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the British Veterinary Association has yet responded to any consultation guidelines regarding the Highland and Islands veterinary services schemes.
Mr. Charles Kennedy : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the implications for existing economic and recreational activities of an area which is accorded special area of conservation status.
Sir Hector Monro : The implications for existing economic and recreational activities in an area designated as a special area of conservation will vary according to the conservation interest for which the site is designated and the nature and extent of the existing activities.
Mr. Charles Kennedy : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps the Scottish Office will be taking to obtain local views on economic and social factors which might moderate the list of possible special areas of conservation prior to the list being issued for public consultation.
Sir Hector Monro : The Government believe that when a list of candidate special areas of conservation has been drawn up, the owners and occupiers of those sites should be the first to be informed. In drawing up their proposals the Government will take account of available information on economic and social factors, including relevant local authority structure and local plans. Moreover, the Scottish Office would be interested in any advice which local authorities and other organisations might care to give about areas which they consider suitable or unsuitable for proposal as special areas of conservation.
Mr. Charles Kennedy : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on progress towards construction of the Skye bridge, with particular reference to reported difficulties encountered in respect of concrete poured atop the north pier ; and if he will estimate what financial implications this will have for the project as a whole.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The particularly bad weather conditions experienced over the winter months have caused the construction of the main bridge to be not as well advanced as other parts of the scheme. The difficulty with the concrete at the top of the north pier has not been an obstacle to progress. The contractor is currently reviewing his programme and, given good weather conditions coupled with an improvement in output, anticipates completion of the bridge in autumn 1995. The financial implications associated with the construction contract lie with the contractor and the developer : there are no implications either for the level or the duration of the tolls, which remain as published in the made toll order.
Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the cost to his Department of the merging of the boundaries of local authorities proposed in the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Bill by the Ordnance Survey ; and how much of this expenditure was attributable to the boundaries of the proposed East Renfrewshire authority.
Mr. Stewart [holding answer 12 April 1994] : Final costs to the Department in respect of the use of Ordnance Survey services are not yet known since work on boundaries is continuing in response to commitments given to the Standing Committee considering the Local
Column 210Government etc. (Scotland) Bill. The cost in relation to the mereing of the boundary of the proposed East Renfrewshire authority, prior to the introduction of the Bill, was £253.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 12 April 1994] : I have arranged for a copy of the submission which I commissioned from the Scottish tourist board to be placed in the Library. All other submissions were unsolicited and are not therefore covered by the understanding about publication applied to responses to formal consultation exercises.
Mr. Stewart : Government guidelines require that two thirds of a local enterprise company's directors, including the chairman, are drawn from senior members of the private sector and that all directors should either live or work in the local area. Subject to these requirements, and any others laid down in the company's articles of association, the selection of board members is at the discretion of the company's members.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from Scottish Enterprise about skill shortages in the Scottish economy ; and what he proposes to do about them.
Mr. Stewart : My right hon. Friend has received no representations from Scottish Enterprise about skill shortages in the Scottish economy. It is an objective of Scottish Enterprise to improve the performance of new and existing businesses by increasing their commitment to plan and invest in training and development to meet business needs. Scottish Enterprise is also responsible for funding and co-ordinating the provision of training for young people and unemployed adults through local enterprise companies to meet the needs of the local labour markets.
Mr. Rooker : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the numbers of full-time students in higher education institutions who are (a) home based, (b) living away from their parents' home and studying in London or (c) living away from their parents' home and studying elsewhere.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 12 April 1994] : For 1992-93, the number of undergraduate students receiving awards from the then awards division of the Scottish Office Education Department, now Student Awards Agency for Scotland, was (a) 30,553, (b) 809 and (c) 54,897.
Mr. Stewart : Local authorities have discretionary powers under section 87(1) of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968, as amended, to charge such an amount as they consider reasonable for adult non-residential care services, including domiciliary--home help--services, taking
Column 212account of individual financial circumstances. This applies irrespective of whether the client is in receipt of income-related benefits or not.
Dr. Godman : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many three-year olds and four-year olds are receiving nursery education in (a) Strathclyde and (b) Scotland as a whole ; and what percentage these represent of the total number of children of this age group in both Strathclyde and Scotland.
Number and percentage of three and four year olds attending nursery schools Education authority nursery schools and Private nursery departments: schools<1> Nursery departments of independent schools |Number attending at|Percentage of |Number attending at|Percentage of |September 1993 |population<2> |March 1993 |population<2> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Strathclyde |19,304 |32.3 |1,816 |2.6 Scotland |48,132 |36.9 |3,677 |2.5 <1> Registered with local authority social work departments. <2> Provisional: based on the mid-1992 population estimates from the General Register Office (Scotland).
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Education authorities have a duty to provide for the special educational needs of children belonging to their area and they fulfil this responsibility through appropriate learning support.
Centrally held records do not identify specifically the number of children suffering from autism or autistic tendencies, but it is likely that all education authorities in Scotland will have autistic children belonging to their area for whom they make educational provision.
Dr. Godman : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what sum is required to bring the council housing stock in (a) Inverclyde, (b) Strathclyde and (c) Scotland as a whole up to satisfactory habitable standards ; and if he will make a statement.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The information requested is not held centrally. It is up to individual local authorities to undertake local house condition surveys of their stock to assess the state of their council housing and to decide how best to deploy the substantial resources available to them to improve the standard of their housing. I have asked all local authorities to give priority to tackling below tolerable standard housing and dampness and condensation in preparing their housing plans and capital programmes.
Information on the general state of repair of public sector housing stock is quoted in the report of the 1991 Scottish house condition survey which is available in the Library.
Mr. Kynoch : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has yet set a date for publication of the national planning policy guideline on land for mineral working ; and if he will make a statement.
This is the first comprehensive planning policy statement on the working of minerals in Scotland. It seeks to promote economic activity without compromising Scotland's important environmental assets. In so doing, it introduces a general presumption in favour of properly assessed and controlled mineral extraction, cautions against such activity in particularly sensitive locations, and requires high standards of environmental care. It also commends a greater reliance on renewable and recycled materials, in line with our undertakings in the recently published "UK Sustainable Development Strategy", Cm. 2426.
In addition, the NPPG provides explicit guidance on coastal superquarries. I have concluded that such developments have a potentially important contribution to make to the economy at both national and local level, but that their scale and potential impact require them to be controlled carefully. Based on previous research and a preference for a dispersed geographical pattern, I have therefore stipulated preferred search areas on the north coast of Highland region, in the Shetland isles and in the Western isles. In the first instance, I have also chosen to limit numbers, allowing for no more than four such developments, including the existing superquarry at Glensanda, over the 15-year period to 2009. Proposals will be notified to me accordingly.
This will be subject to review in the normal manner. In the meantime, I believe it represents a realistic strategy that will allow a sensible balance to be struck between social and economic benefits on the one hand and environmental care on the other.
Mr. Redwood : Payments of the final instalment to 1993 claimants should begin within the next month or so, and be completed by June, except in those cases which are held up by queries or quota problems.
Mr. Llwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many representations he has received within the last six months on the subject of the payment of sheep annual premium ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the annual sums of money committed since the inception of the European regional development fund to each recipient local authority and the annual amounts paid to each from the fund.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to his answer of 29 March, Official Report, column 625, how many members of the public have written to him to (a) support and (b) oppose the inclusion of Pentyrch in the proposed new unitary authority of Cardiff ; and if he will list their wards of residence.
Mr. Redwood : Since the publication of the White Paper "Local Government in Wales : A Charter for the Future" I have not received any representations from members of the public about the inclusion of Pentyrch in the proposed Cardiff unitary authority.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to his answer of 29 March, Official Report, column 625 if he will list all the specific representations he has received in favour of the inclusion of Llanelly in the proposed new unitary authority of Powys, with the date on which each one was made.
Mr. Redwood : Since publication of the Local Government (Wales) Bill, I have received one representation from the chairman of Powys county council, in February 1994, supporting the inclusion of Llanelly in the proposed Powys unitary authority.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list those specific representations that have been made to him opposing the inclusion of Wick, St. Brides Major and Ewenny in the proposed new unitary authority of Vale of Glamorgan, giving the date on which each representation was made.
Column 214I have received representations opposing the inclusion of Wick, St. Bride's Major and Ewenny in the proposed Vale of Glamorgan unitary authority from :
Win Griffiths MP
Ogwr borough council
St. Bride's Major town council
Ewenny community council
Wick community council
and 176 members of the public
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the specific representations he has had opposing the inclusion of Pentyrch in the proposed new unitary authority of Cardiff ; and when each representation was made.
Mr. Redwood : Since publication of the White Paper, "Local Government in Wales : A Charter for the Future", I received one representation from Taff Ely borough council dated 6 April 1993 in opposition to the inclusion of Pentyrch in the proposed Cardiff unitary authority.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to his answer of 27 January, Official Report, columns 322-23, if he will list the date of each specific representation that he has received favouring the inclusion of Wick, St. Brides Major and Ewenny in the proposed new unitary authority of Vale of Glamorgan.
Mr. Redwood : Since publication of the White Paper, "Local Government in Wales : A Charter for the Future", I have received representations from 13 organisations and individuals in support of the inclusion of Wick, St. Bride's Major and Ewenny in the proposed Vale of Glamorgan unitary authority dated as follows :
Dates of representations expressing support for the inclusion of Wick, St. Bride's Major and Ewenny in the proposed Vale of Glamorgan unitary authority :
7 March 1993
9 March 1993
11 March 1993
21 March 1993
23 March 1993
29 March 1993
31 March 1993
20 May 1993
10 June 1993
7 July 1993
12 July 1993
18 July 1993
26 January 1994
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to his answer of 29 March, Official Report, column 625, if he will list all the specific representations that he has received in favour of the inclusion of Pentyrch in the proposed new unitary authority of Cardiff ; and when each one was made.
Mr. Redwood : Since the publication of the White Paper, "Local Government in Wales : A Charter for the Future", I have received one letter, dated 26 January 1994, from the Leaders of Cardiff city council and Vale of Glamorgan borough council stating that they support
"the proposals as outlined in the Bill".