Mr. Rowe : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish the rules governing the independent evaluation of the environmental assessment of the channel tunnel rail link, giving the criteria against which any such evaluation is to be judged.
Mr. Freeman : The environmental assessment rules for Bills authorising works are contained in Standing Order No. 27A. Where, as in the case of the new channel tunnel rail link, an environmental statement is required, it must be deposited by the promoter soon after the Bill. It must contain all the information set out in the Town and Country Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1988, which are based on the requirements of EC Directive 85/337.
The environmental statement for the new channel tunnel rail link is being prepared for Union Railways by Environmental Resources Management and other specialist consultants. As part of a review for the Government of Union Railway's route development methodology in 1992-93, W. S. Atkins examined and endorsed the
Column 243approach to environmental assessment. Further reviews in relation to the route have not been considered necessary. It will be for Parliament, and the Bill Select Committee in particular, to scrutinise the environmental statement, with the benefit of submissions by petitioners and the promoter.
Mr. Norris : In 1989, a grant payment of £500,000 was made to the River Bus partnership by the Departments of Transport and of the Environment towards promotion and improvement of the service, conditional upon private sector investment of up to £2 million from five private sector developers, headed by Olympia and York. No other public funds were awarded and the service continued to operate at a loss, despite heavy subsidy from the private sector, until its demise in August 1993. Further contributions from public funds could not have been justified, as in transport terms the service represented poor value for money.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy at the next European Transport Council to press for the admission to the standing working group on the transport of radioactive materials of non-governmental organisations as observers.
Mr. Norris : No. The standing working group, set up at the request of the European Parliament in 1982 and administered by the Directorate- General for Energy--DG XVII--already has the power to invite non- governmental representatives to its meetings.
Mr. Byers : To ask the Attorney-General when the Director of Public Prosecutions met the President of the Republic of Northern Cyprus either in her present capacity or when head of the Serious Fraud Office ; and what subjects were discussed.
Mr. Ingram : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proportion of the existing assessments were reduced as a result of the child support formula changes on 7 February ; how many absent parents were entitled to type A transitional protection before 7 February ; how many absent parents have applied for type B transitional protection since 7 February ; how many of these applications have been processed to date ; and how many of these qualified for the new transitional protection.
Letter from Ros Hepplewhite to Mr. Adam Ingram, dated 13 April 1994 :
I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Services about the impact of the policy changes to Child Support introduced on 7 February.
As a result of the formula changes around 37 of eligible assessments were reduced.
At 30 March, 2,226 absent parents whose maintenance liability had been assessed prior to 7 February 1993 had applied for transitional protection under the new arrangements, and over 1,900 cases had been processed. Of these transitional protection had been awarded to 840 absent parents. In addition, absent parents whose maintenance is assessed on or after 7 February have automatically been considered for transitional protection under the new arrangements.
Figures are not available on the number of absent parents entitled to type A transitional protection prior to 7 February.
I hope this reply is helpful.
Dr. Wright : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many lone parents in receipt of income support and maintenance are subject to the diversion procedure ; and what proportion of maintenance orders in favour of lone parents on income support are subject to this procedure.
Mr. Burt : The total number of income support cases subject to diversion procedure is 60,927. Of these, 46,370 are lone parents with children whose cases are awaiting the completion of a maintenance assessment by the Child Support Agency. Statistics on the proportion of lone parents on income support whose maintenance orders are subject to the diversion procedure are not kept.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his estimate of the money saved from (a) reduced housing benefit payments and (b) reduced council tax payments arising out of the family credit payments in respect of child care for working mothers.
Mr. Burt : Payments to all those already in work who begin to use the new earnings disregard in respect of child care costs will increase by an estimated £30 million in housing benefit and £5 million in council tax benefit in a full year at 1994-95 prices. Payments to the estimated 50,000 who commence work because of the introduction of the disregard will be reduced by an estimated £45 million in housing benefit and £10 million in council tax benefit.
Column 245and 17-year-olds carried out by the child abuse studies unit of London university ; what were its main findings ; if he will place a copy of the final report in the Library ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Burt : The report by the child abuse studies unit of London university into service delivery to 16 to 17-year-olds is an operational matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Tony Laurance to Mr. Tony Lloyd, dated13 April 1994 ;
As Michael Bichard is on sick leave at the moment, the Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the report by the Child Abuse Studies Unit of London University into service delivery to 16 and 17 year olds.
The report to which you refer was not commissioned as a research document, but as an internal consultancy exercise looking at ways of improving service to this group of customers, and as such the Benefits Agency does not intend to publish the document.
The terms of reference were to investigate the standard of service delivery, identify good practices and areas of concern, establish an understanding of the needs of 16 and 17 year olds, identify the level of knowledge and information needs of advice workers, assess training needs of Benefits Agency staff, and evaluate pre/post claim information.
The report made a number of recommendations under headings such as Training, Publicity, Local Practice and Payment. Many of these recommendations refer to good practices to adopt when dealing with claims from young people. Guidance to staff in Benefits Agency District Offices is in the form of a Handbook called "Income Support for 16/17 year olds" and contains a section on good practices. This Handbook has been revised recently and where possible the recommendations from this report have been incorporated in the revised Handbook. The revised version has been in District Offices since mid-March 1994. A copy of the Handbook is already in the Library.
I hope you find this reply helpful.
Dr. Godman : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many severe weather payments have been made in (a) Greenock and Port Glasgow, (b) Strathclyde and (c) Scotland as a whole since November 1993.
Letter from Tony Laurance to Dr. Norman A. Godman, dated 13 April 1994.
As Michael Bichard is on sick leave at the moment, the Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question in which you asked how many Cold Weather Payments had been made in Greenock and Port Glasgow, Strathclyde, and Scotland as a whole since November 1993.
Details on Cold Weather Payments made are available for each Benefit Agency District. The attached appendix gives details for the Clyde Coast and Cowal District which comprises the Greenock and Port Glasgow branch offices. As there is no single Benefit Agency District covering Strathclyde I supplied the details for the Districts that fall within the Scotland and Northern Benefit Agency Area Directorate.
I hope my reply has been helpful.
Appendix: Number of cold weather payments 1 November 1993 to 31 March 1994 BA District |Number ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Clyde Coast and Cowal (comprising Greenock and Port Glasgow) |25,081 Strathclyde Benefit Agency Districts: Glasgow City |- Glasgow East |- Glasgow Laurieston |- Glasgow South West |- Glasgow West |- Renfrew |- Springburn and Cumbernauld |271,416 Scotland as a whole |840,578
Mr. Maclean : We have received two letters this year from Members of Parliament concerning criminal activity committed by people under the influence of the drug Temazepam. Both letters were from hon. Members representing constituencies in the north-east, and were prompted by the tragic murder of Sgt. Bill Forth on Tyneside.
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to be able to reply to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside, concerning the case of Anthony O'Kere ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maclean : Mr. Kamara maintains that he was wrongfully convicted in 1981 of murder and robbery. One hundred and four hon. Members and others have since written on his behalf. All of the matters raised in representations received have been carefully considered, but no grounds have come to light which would justify any action by my right hon. and learned Friend in respect of Mr. Kamara's conviction.
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many racially motivated attacks have occurred in (a) Liverpool and (b) Merseyside in each of the past five years ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 247attacks, as defined by the Association of Chief Police Officers. Figures for Merseyside are given in the table. Information for Liverpool is not collected centrally.
Number of racial incidents in Merseyside Year |Number of |incidents ------------------------------ 1988 |136 1989 |123 1990 |144 1991 |162 1992 |134 ACPO definition: Any incident in which it appears to the reporting or investigating officer that the complaint involves an element of racial motive, or any incidents which include allegations of racial motivation made by any person.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to his question on 3 March 1994 at column 821-22 for details of the practical steps being taken by the Government to combat racial violence. Since then, the Secretary of State has tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill to make section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986-- publication or distribution of written material intended or likely to stir up racial hatred--an arrestable offence. The Government are also studying ways to deal with persistent harassment. Any further steps will be taken in the light of the report of the Home Affairs Committee inquiry into racial attacks and harassment when it is published.
Mr. Charles Wardle : I refer to my reply to the previous question from the hon. Member for Dundee, East on 11 March at column 415. Octopus vulgaris were included within the provisions of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 from 1 October 1993. Information on any scientific use of this species during the remainder of 1993 will be included in the "Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals 1993" to be published later this year.
Project licence authority is not required for the use of other octopus species in scientific procedures, and information about such use is not collected.
Mr. Mike O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what was the total annual budget for special constables in England and Wales in each year since 1979 ; (2) what was the total annual budget for special constables for each constabulary in England and Wales in each of the last five years.
Mr. Charles Wardle : This information is not centrally available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Each police force has its own special constabulary which is funded centrally through the police grant. There is no separate financial provision for special constables, and such budgetary information is not centrally collected.
(2) how many special constables were on establishment in England and Wales in each constabulary in each of the last five years.
Mr. Charles Wardle : Special constables are not included in the assessment of police establishments. They are usually recruited on a divisional basis to supplement the numbers of regular officers, although there is currently a national campaign to encourage members of the public to volunteer.
Available statistics for the number of volunteers serving in special constabularies in England and Wales in 1980-1993 are given in table A. Figures for 1979 are not available.
The figures provided by individual constabularies for the years 1989-1993 are given in table B.
Table A Year |Number --------------------- 1980 |15,108 1981 |14,978 1982 |15,160 1983 |15,331 1984 |16,012 1985 |16,161 1986 |16,070 1987 |16,209 1988 |15,788 1989 |15,589 1990 |15,881 1991 |18,073 1992 |19,243 1993 |20,566
Table B Forces |1989 |1990 |1991 |1992 |1993 -------------------------------------------------------------------- Avon and Somerset |503 |536 |568 |712 |770 Bedfordshire |137 |122 |167 |199 |192 Cambridge |169 |173 |198 |182 |245 Cheshire |219 |244 |299 |274 |387 City of London |60 |56 |68 |85 |89 Cleveland |139 |143 |177 |195 |232 Cumbria |210 |193 |246 |230 |248 Derbyshire |251 |275 |347 |335 |423 Devon and Cornwall |852 |913 |984 |946 |1,067 Dorset |218 |214 |254 |263 |239 Durham |149 |152 |165 |203 |258 Dyfed-Powys |189 |210 |315 |260 |271 Essex |445 |482 |642 |759 |751 Gloucestershire |209 |206 |224 |274 |315 Greater Manchester |473 |517 |530 |570 |617 Gwent |95 |76 |80 |101 |109 Hampshire |362 |369 |529 |587 |611 Hertfordshire |203 |206 |202 |247 |294 Humberside |249 |273 |316 |422 |446 Kent |500 |501 |484 |554 |587 Lancashire |432 |377 |474 |539 |565 Leicestershire |327 |357 |371 |379 |392 Lincolnshire |365 |356 |397 |416 |383 Merseyside |296 |295 |340 |367 |389 Norfolk |269 |268 |312 |346 |366 North Wales |175 |199 |256 |295 |298 North Yorkshire |334 |383 |387 |388 |497 Northamptonshire |240 |218 |271 |302 |330 Northumbria |538 |534 |571 |512 |517 Nottinghamshire |485 |470 |556 |593 |551 South Wales |261 |257 |352 |432 |534 South Yorkshire |316 |317 |371 |412 |473 Staffordshire |566 |592 |702 |733 |770 Suffolk |329 |354 |373 |386 |414 Surrey |174 |215 |214 |251 |232 Sussex |530 |495 |571 |548 |512 Thames Valley |568 |532 |564 |606 |623 Warwickshire |347 |361 |384 |350 |350 West Mercia |542 |509 |526 |611 |629 West Midlands |673 |743 |843 |955 |918 West Yorkshire |568 |562 |735 |613 |708 Wiltshire |269 |261 |273 |322 |349 |-------|-------|-------|-------|------- Provincial Total |14,236 |14,516 |16,638 |17,754 |18,951 |-------|-------|-------|-------|------- Metropolitan Police |1,353 |1,365 |1,435 |1,489 |1,615 |-------|-------|-------|-------|------- England and Wales Total |15,589 |15,881 |18,073 |19,243 |20,566
(2) how the duties and powers of special constables have altered over the past 10 years.
Mr. Charles Wardle : The deployment of special constables and the duties to which they may be assigned always has been, and continues to be, an operational decision for which chief officers are responsible and which varies according to local circumstances and the training, experience and preferences of the special constables concerned. No changes have been made to the powers of special constables over the past 10 years : nor are any changes currently being contemplated.
Mrs. Golding : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will evaluate for use in England and Wales the system for allowing children to give evidence on commission, as used in Scotland.
Column 250children in criminal proceedings when the findings of Professor Graham Davies' research become available at the end of this year. As part of that consideration we shall certainly take into account the early experience of the Scottish courts in taking evidence from children on commission.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans the Prison Service Chaplaincy has for publishing a section on pagans in its Directory and Guide on Religious Practice ; and what are the reasons for this decision.
Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 12 April 1994] : 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 Derek Lewis to Mr. David Alton, dated 14 April 1994 :
The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent question about plans to publish a section on paganism in the Prison Service Directory and Guide on Religious Practice.
There are currently no plans to include a section on paganism in the Directory and Guide, although consultation is taking place to obtain more information on such groups and their beliefs.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many working days have passed since the start of the Parcelforce and Post Office reviews ; what the total expenditure up to the present date has been ; and what the average expenditure on consultancy for each day of the review process has been.
Mr. McLoughlin : The Government announced their intention to privatise Parcelforce on 15 July 1992, Official Report, column 1137 and announced the review of the structure and organisation of the Post Office on 29 July 1992. From these dates to 31 March 1994 there were 435 and 425 working days respectively. Expenditure on consultancy advice stands at £1,366,204.97 to date, representing an average of approximately £3,150 per working day.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his policy in respect of projects a1, a2, c1, d10, e1, f1 and f2, listed in the annex containing projects of common interest, to the European Commission paper on guidelines for trans-European energy networks.
Mr. Eggar : The proposals are one aspect of continuing discussions between member states on trans-European networks. We consider that the criteria for identifying potential projects should be established before considering any list of specific projects. In our view, the criteria should recognise the principle of not supporting projects which are economically unviable, or which are capable of being financed by the private sector.
Mr. Heseltine : I announced on 4 May last year that I had commenced a review of the options for the future of my Department's laboratories. This review, carried out with the aid of KPMG Peat Marwick management consultants, is now complete, and I am announcing my intentions for the future of the three major establishments : the National Engineering Laboratory--NEL--the Laboratory of the Government Chemist--LGC--and the National Physical Laboratory--NPL. During the process of finalising these proposals, my Department has kept in close touch with the team undertaking the current multi-departmental efficiency scrutiny of public sector research establishments. I have today placed in the Libraries of both Houses the summary report I have received from the consultants KPMG Peat Marwick. This summary necessarily excludes information the publication of which might be prejudicial to the taxpayer's interest in the negotiations surrounding these privatisations.
The DTI's laboratories are an important national resource and each of them plays a significant role in ensuring the competitiveness of British industry, and in meeting the needs of Government Departments. In the past few years they have been established as executive agencies within my Department under the "next steps" initiative. This has involved financing themselves principally from fee income, earned on contracts placed by arm's length customers. Their customers are in the private sector, in other Government Departments and in my own Department. Under this management regime the labora-tories have become more focused in their work, more sensitive to their customers' requirements, and more cost-efficient. They have a good record of meeting the targets Ministers have set them, and of improving their performance from year to year.
In the light of reductions in their prospective work load, these laboratories face the need to reduce and restructure their operations and to seek new business and new customers. At the same time, the progress they have made as executive agencies, although it has been impressive, has also revealed more sharply the limitations inherent in operating on a commercial basis within a Government Department. In their ability both to raise and use capital and to develop and exploit the widest possible markets for their services they do not have the flexibilities they would possess in the private sector. All of the laboratories are now facing competition, and are experiencing declining work loads reflecting both that competition and the Government's changing research priorities. In response, the laboratories have improved their efficiency, but now need more flexibility to continue doing so.
My review has convinced me that each of these laboratories will respond best to these challenges within the private sector, and that once they are set free from the constraints of operating within Government, they will be better able both to serve their existing customers and to market their services to new customers, above all in industry. These laboratories all have a unique asset in the expertise of their staff, which is respected internationally.
Column 252In the private sector there will be more scope for that expertise to be applied to the advantage of British industry. The laboratories will remain first class institutions.
The NEL's role is that of a technology services enterprise serving customers in the private and public sectors. A decision has already been announced that it will be prepared for privatisation once it has established its commercial viability. For some years now the NEL's aim has been to reach this point in 1994-95, so that the process of privatisation can be set in hand during 1995. It has made major progress towards these targets, and my review has now confirmed them in spite of major changes in its programme of activities, reflecting changing priorities within my Department's research and technology spending. These changes will make substantial restructuring necessary, following which I intend to seek a trade purchaser of the NEL during the summer of 1995.
The LGC's role is to provide chemical analysis and measurement services to several Government Departments and other bodies. A key asset is its independence and its reputation for impartiality. I have decided to pursue the recommendation of my consultants that it should be established as an independent non-profit-distributing company in the private sector. Preparations for this will be put in hand immediately, including a major restructuring programme, and I hope to complete the process by the end of 1995-96. However my mind is not closed to the possibility of a trade sale of the LGC, if a suitable buyer comes forward who can demonstrate the requisite independence. The NPL's main task is to develop and disseminate national measurement standards. Its dominant customer is my Department's national measurement system policy unit. Although this position will remain, the laboratory needs to continue restructuring to adapt itself to a reduced budget for work of this kind. Although the efficiency of the NPL has continued to increase steadily as an executive agency, it now needs to achieve further significant restructuring. I have come to the conclusion that this will be more effectively achieved if its management is contracted to the private sector. I thus intend to invite proposals for a management contractor during 1995. Commercial progress under the management contractors will be carefully reviewed, and might in due course result in the NPL becoming ready to move into private sector ownership.
I shall separately be considering the future of the National Measurement Accreditation Service, part of the NPL, which the consultants felt should be viable on its own and could more appropriately operate independently of the NPL.
Although all these laboratories are finding an increasing proportion of their business from the private sector, my review has made it clear that their success under private sector ownership or management will depend on their ability to bid on fair and equal terms for business from customers in my own and other Government Departments. Those taking on the responsibility of their ownership and management will naturally need to be assured that these opportunities will be available. It is the clear intention of the Government that they will be. The White Paper "Realising our Potential" (CM2250) sets out our commitment that competitive tendering procedures must become the normal method of placing work. These decisions represent major changes for all three establishments and their staff. The changes will enable the
Column 253NEL, the NPL and the LGC to take better advantage of new opportunities and to forge new and successful futures for themselves. The planning of this process is a complex task requiring thorough co-ordination. To assist in pushing it through with all vigour I have appointed the PA Consulting Group to act as project managers. The consultants also considered future options for the National Weights and Measures Laboratory--NWML. They recommended no major change but I am looking at possibilities which the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill will offer for contracting out some of the NWML's services. I will be making a further announcement in due course.
Mr. John Marshall : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he expects amendments to the Electricity (Class Exemptions from the Requirement for a Licence) Order 1990 to be made ; and if he will make a statement.
I have today laid before Parliament an order which will bring four of the five amendments that I announced into effect. These are : raising the amount of power that may be provided by small generators in certain circumstances without requiring a generation licence ;
removing the condition that an own-generator requires a supply licence unless at least 51 per cent. of the electricity from his generating station goes to qualifying customers on the
own-generators' site ;
allowing companies to resell limited amounts of electricity purchased from a second tier supplier or own generator to franchise consumers located on their site ; and
removal of the requirement that most exempt generators who have stations over 200 kW capacity must notify the Secretary of State of their name and address.
My officials have also considered further the fifth of these amendments, to allow more companies to be included in a "qualifying group" of consumers that may be supplied by an own-generator without requiring a licence. I expect to lay a separate order covering this amendment shortly.
These changes will reduce the regulatory burden on small generators, own generators and consumers who sell on a small proportion of the electricity they purchase. Consumers should also be helped by the undertaking on pool prices and the sale of generating plant that the Director General of Electricity Supply received from the main generators in February. I also note that DTI figures now show that the average electricity price paid by manufacturing industry in Great Britain fell by nearly 7 per cent. between 1989--before the electricity industry was vested--and 1993. This is further evidence of the success of electricity privatisation.