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Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to extend the VAT exemptions, which apply to building work on houses, to residential boats, whether or not they have an engine.
Sir John Cope : I have no plans to change the existing VAT treatment which applies to houseboats.
Mr. Nicholls : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the sites under consideration for special protection area status in the United Kingdom ; and if he will place a map of those sites in the Library.
Mr. Atkins : A review of potential special protection areas in the United Kingdom is currently being carried out in the light of the most recent scientific knowledge and information. When this review is completed a list of these areas, together with a pinpoint map, will be placed in the Library.
Mr. Rowe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment for how many regular publications he was responsible in 1993-94 ; what was their circulation ; and how many were obtainable by subscription.
Mr. Gummer : My Department published 317 titles which included research and annual reports, technical and statistical reports and consultation papers in 1993-94. Eighty-three of these were produced regularly either annually or as part of a series.
Of the regular titles, 63 were published by HMSO which reports total sales of 103,100 copies. Twenty of its publications were available on subscription and the rest on its standing order service which allows customers to register an interest in a particular subject and receive titles on those subjects as published. The balance of 20 were regular departmental publications. A total of 5,310 copies were sold to 401 subscribers, interested organisations and individuals.
Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the latest estimate provided by the English house condition survey for the potential cost required to repair, renovate and improve unfit dwellings in the private sector ; what is the Department's current funding for mandatory grants ; what was the Department's funding 10 years ago ; how he plans to counterbalance any discrepancy ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir George Young : From data in the English house condition survey the potential cost of remedying unfitness in the private sector is estimated to be £4 billion. Responsibility rests primarily with the owner, but grant assistance is available from local authorities subject to a means test. The Government provide Exchequer grant for 60 per cent. of local authorities' expenditure on private sector renewal. A total of £260 million is allocated for this purpose in 1994-95. The amount spent on mandatory renovation grants will reflect the applications actually received. Total expenditure by local authorities on intermediate grants-- the only mandatory grants for house renovation for which financial information was recorded separately--totalled £79.9 million in 1984- 85.
Mr. Miller : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to endorse the regulations laid down in the Association of Retirement Housing
Column 260Managers code of practice as the criteria by which the housing association tenants ombudsman should judge owner-occupied sheltered accommodation which is managed by a registered housing association.
Sir George Young : The Secretary of State has powers to approve codes of practice designed to promote good management for residential property. As yet no code has been formally submitted to him. Registered housing associations are required to satisfy the standards set by the Housing Corporation in the tenants guarantee or the leaseholders guarantee. The Housing Association tenants obmudsman will have regard to these standards and to other recognised guidance on good practice when considering any complaint submitted to him from a tenant or leaseholder of a property owned or managed by a registered housing association. It is, however, for the ombudsman to determine the handling of any individual case.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to approve new byelaws designed to hold owners more accountable for their pets in respect of dog faeces on streets and public footways ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : Local authorities in England and Wales already have powers to adopt "poop-scoop" byelaws which make it an offence for owners not to clear up after their dogs in designated areas. The issue of whether dog fouling should be dealt with in the same way as litter in national law is being looked at by my Department's advisory group on litter as part of its review of litter legislation. Its report is expected shortly.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many personnel from his Department were involved in Exercise Diver Mist ; in what capacities they served ; and what was the cost to his Department of this involvement.
Mr. Atkins : Eight staff from the Department of the Environment, including Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution, were involved in Exercise Diver Mist at a cost of approximately £17,500. Their roles covered planning, representation of the Department's activities and assessment.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to change the guidance to planning authorities in the establishment of new residential moorings.
Mr. Baldry : Planning policy guidance note 3 "Housing" contains our current policy. It advises planning authorities to bear in mind the special needs of houseboat dwellers. We have no plans to change this guidance.
Mr. McGrady : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment why Her Majesty's Government did not accept the PARCOM recommendation 93/5 concerning
Column 261increases in radioactive discharges from nuclear reprocessing plants at the meeting of the Paris Commission in June 1993 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : I refer the hon. Member to my answer to the hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) on 7 March, Official Report, column 44.
Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what deadlines he has set for completion of the national review of capacity and capacity-building requirements, needed for the United Kingdom national sustainable development strategy ;
(2) what discussions he has had with relevant interest groups to establish national capacity and capacity-building requirements for national sustainable development strategies in accordance with the Government's commitments under chapter 37 of Agenda 21.
Mr. Atkins : Chapter 37 of Agenda 21 is about capacity building in developing countries. Its recommendations are therefore not directly relevant in the domestic policies of a developed country like the United Kingdom. Pages 34 to 36 of our 1994 "Report to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development" give a summary account of the work we are doing to support capacity building in developing countries.
Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the consideration of ecological sustainability of economic activity at the meeting of the Group of Seven Finance Ministers in Washington on 24 April.
Mr. Atkins : The Government have made it clear in "Sustainable Development, the UK Strategy," published in January, that they intend to take account of sustainable development in the formulation of their policies.
Mr. Ainger : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many responses he has had following consultations on the proposed amendment to schedule 4 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 ; and how many responses were in favour of amendment.
Mr. Atkins : I refer to the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) on 25 April, Official Report, column 40-41 . Of the 192 responses received, 45 were fully or partly in favour and 27 neither supported nor objected to the proposals.
We consulted our scientific advisors, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, in preparing our proposals. They accepted that the conservation status of the sparrowhawk, kestrel and common buzzard will not be significantly adversely affected at present by the proposals.
Mr. Llwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many local authorities from (a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Wales, (d) Northern Ireland and (e) the United Kingdom have participated in the exchange of experience programme sponsored by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions ; what are the
Column 262corresponding amounts of (i) financial support received from the European Commission and (ii) total spending under the programme ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry : This information is not collected by central Government. The exchange of experience programme is managed in the United Kingdom independently of central Government and participation in it is a matter for individual authorities.
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the recent visit of the Minister for Housing, Inner Cities and Construction to Liverpool.
Sir George Young [holding answer 27 April 1994] : I visited Merseyside on 22 April. I went to Kirkby where I was impressed by the continuing strides being made in regenerating the housing stock ; I met some of the partners involved in an exciting project at Westvale to provide new homes in Kirkby. I visited Stockbridge village to see the refurbished estate and discuss with Stockbridge village trust its ideas for the wider economic regeneration of the area. I also had a useful discussion with the Merseyside local authorities' co-ordinating committee about European structural funds matters and agreed the importance of a strong local partnership to take the objective 1 programme forward for the maximum benefit of the people of Merseyside. I also met representatives of the housing corporation to discuss its role in improving housing on Merseyside.
Lady Olga Maitland : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will specify the detailed steps that need to be taken under the dual control arrangement in Bosnia before an air strike can take place ; who makes the final decision ; and what time delay is envisaged in securing agreement with NATO, the United Nations and other parties.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Under the terms of the 22 April North Atlantic Council decision, either NATO or United Nations commanders can initiate a request for air strikes. Both must agree before air strikes can take place. Authorisation for air strikes must then be given by the United Nations Secretary-General's special representative in the former Yugoslavia, Mr. Akashi. There is no requirement for any further consultation.
Sir Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 21 April, Official Report, column 609, what costs would be involved to his Department in calculating the legal costs involved in the representation of the United Kingdom's interests in the infraction proceedings since 1 January 1985 and the consequential legal charges against the United Kingdom as a result of the decisions of the court ; what consideration has been given to recording such costs ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : To attempt to obtain accurate figures for the legal and consequential costs of the infraction proceedings brought before the court by the Commission would involve detailed research work across several Government Departments. The cost of such an exercise would exceed the disproportionate cost threshold for written parliamentary questions.
We will continue to minimise the costs incurred by adverse European Court of Justice decisions by ensuring that Britain complies with its treaty obligations.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will propose to the United Nations Security Council that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda mandate and presence in Rwanda should be changed or strengthened.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : United Nations Security Council resolution 912 of 21 April gives UNAMIR a mandate to act as an intermediary in an attempt to secure a ceasefire as well as assist in the resumption of humanitarian relief operations and monitor and report on developments. The Security Council has agreed to keep the mandate of UNAMIR under review.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the demobilisation and rehabilitation programmes of former soldiers in Mozambique are on schedule to be completed before the election.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : After a delay, demobilisation started on 10 March. It can be completed before the elections if the Mozambican Government and RENAMO show the necessary political will. The rehabilitation programme has also begun, but is scheduled to continue for another 18 months.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what guidance he gives to local education authorities regarding the measures that they take to ensure that vehicles contracted to transport children to and from school are roadworthy and that the crews are safe drivers.
Mr. Forth : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has national responsibility for vehicle safety matters, including policy on vehicle construction and driver qualifications. However, the Department for Education offered general advice on school transport to all local education authorities in a circular letter on 21 January 1994. A copy is in the Library. It reminded authorities that the home-to-school transport which they provide or arrange must carry pupils in reasonable safety and comfort. It also advises authorities to encourage contractors to observe the school transport safety code of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, which issued with the endorsement of the Secretary of State in 1991. Copies were distributed to all education authorities and schools.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are being taken to reform the police force in Mozambique on similar lines to the military and to train FRELIMO and RENAMO supporters together ; and what British or European Union funds are being used for this purpose.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The police and the armed forces in Mozambique are separate. There are no current plans to change the composition of the police. However, a United Nations police contingent of 1,300 has started to arrive in Mozambique to monitor police activity and to observe the run-up to the elections. It is being funded in the UN budget to which we and other members contribute. Neither we nor the EC have plans to help with police training.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contributions are being made by Britain and the European Union to an education for democracy process in Mozambique.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : There is an education for democracy component in the United Nations Development Programme's electoral assistance project. We are contributing £600,000 and the European Commission about £8.6 million to the project.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the current contribution of each of the specialist development organisations of the United Nations to Mozambique.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I will write to the hon. Member when I receive the relevant information from the United Nations.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the level of pollution of the Aral sea and scope for aid to redress the situation.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : This issue has been the subject of several recent international studies. Alleviating the situation is a priority for the know -how fund in Kazakhstan. The United Kingdom will be represented at the NATO science programme workshop on critical environmental issues of the Aral sea basin in Tashkent in May and at the World bank's Aral sea conference in Paris in June. These discussions will help us to identify what help we might offer through the environmental know-how fund.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will give instructions in future that local staff who are employed by British aid organisations should be evacuated on the same basis as British nationals if their life is endangered by remaining.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : No. We cannot give any undertaking to evacuate local people from their own country on the same basis as British nationals.
Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans the Minister for Overseas Development has to attend the meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Commission in New York in May.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave him on 21 April at column 612.
Sir Keith Speed : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about the choice of a route for the channel tunnel rail link at Ashford.
Mr. Jacques Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the route of the channel tunnel rail link at Pepper Hill, Northfleet, in Kent.
Mr. Macgregor : I have today announced my decisions on the route of the new channel tunnel rail link through Ashford and at Pepper Hill. In January I announced a route for the new channel tunnel rail link that would be safeguarded, but that further study and consultation had been requested by the local authorities and Members of Parliament on route options at Ashford and Pepper Hill. Union Railways compared three options at each location, consulted on them and reported to me at the end of March. In deciding on the route at each location that will be safeguarded, I have also taken account of all the representations that have been received. Copies of the Union Railways' reports will be placed in the Library of the House. The extra consultation has fully justified that decision. I am now able to announce that at Pepper Hill I have decided that the chosen route will be the one around the housing estate, in cut and cover under the A2. It is technically feasible, environmentally acceptable, does not cost more and has wide public support locally, including from my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold). At Ashford I have decided that the central route is the best solution. It is environmentally acceptable and has the best financial return. I have also taken particular account of the perception of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford, local authorities and business representatives, in Kent and Sussex, that the economic development of Ashford and east Kent will be enhanced by ensuring that the route serves Ashford international passenger station as directly as possible. The central route affects some housing and commercial premises, but it will be optimised in the next few weeks before it is safeguarded so as to minimise the impacts as far as possible.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what representations he has received from those affected by the decision not to tunnel the channel tunnel rail link through parts of East London ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) on how many occasions he has visited sites and met representatives of local residents and businesses affected by the decision not to tunnel the channel tunnel rail link under parts of east London ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Freeman : Before the January announcement of the final route of the new rail link both my right hon. Friend and I visited those areas affected by the proposed surface route through east London. Since the January announcement my right hon. Friend and I have received a number of representations from those affected by the surface route, and met representatives from the London borough of Barking and Dagenham.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to meet local residents and businesses affected by the decision not to tunnel the channel tunnel rail link under parts of east London ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Freeman : Extensive consultations on the route of the new rail link have been carried out by Union Railways for the Government. My right hon. Friend and I have no present plans for separate meetings with local residents and businesses. However, those who are directly affected by the route of the rail link will have every opportunity to make their case to the Select Committee that will consider the hybrid Bill for the rail link when it is introduced.
Sir John Hannam : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance and what general authority to grant railway operating licences he has given to the Rail Regulator under the Railways Act 1993.
Mr. Freeman : My right hon. Friend issued guidance and a general authority to the Rail Regulator on 31 March to come into effect on 1 April at the same time as the relevant provisions of the Railways Act 1993 came into force. Copies have been placed in the Library. Section 4(5)(a) of the Act imposes a duty on the regulator in exercising his functions under part I of the Act, until 31 December 1996, to take into account guidance given to him from time to time by the Secretary of State. Guidance has been given to the regulator to exercise his functions in a way that will facilitate the achievement of the Government's rail privatisation objective of securing as soon as is reasonably practicable that rail services are provided by the private sector. The guidance given is in respect of moderation of competition, the form of access agreements, the structure and level of access charges, access to British Rail's freight only light maintenance depots, the achievement by Railtrack of its financial regime and the terms and conditions of licences.
The general authority is given to the regulator under section 8(1)(b) of the Act. Broadly, it authorises the regulator to grant licences to private sector operators and to subsidiaries of the BR board but not to any other public sector operator. It sets out the conditions such licences must, may or must not contain.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many tankers transited the Minch during the period January 1992 to January 1994 on a monthly basis ; and, of the total for each year, how many were laden and with what cargo.
Mr. Norris : Information is not available in the form requested. Information available from reports made to Stornoway coastguard since February 1993 is set out in the table.
Month Number of tankerNumber of tankerLaden tankers ballast |Under 10,000 GT|Over 10,000 GT ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ February |6 |3 |2 |1 March |24 |16 |3 |5 April |17 |14 |2 |1 May |17 |10 |7 |0 June |20 |12 |4 |4 July |26 |15 |9 |2 August |23 |12 |10 |1 September |28 |12 |13 |3 October |25 |13 |10 |2 November |29 |17 |9 |3 December |40 |28 |10 |2 |------- |------- |------- |------- Total |255 |152 |79 |24
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many reports of laden tankers transiting the Minch between January 1992 to January 1994 were investigated by his Department ; and what reasons were given by vessels for transiting the Minch instead of the recommended deep water route.
Mr. Norris : Since February 1993, the Department investigated 24 reports of laden tankers over 10,000 gross tons using the Minch. Ten did so because of adverse weather, three were in ballast and four were found not to be in the Minch at all. Evidence suggests that the remainder were not following the recommendations agreed internationally in November 1993 and the appropriate action has been taken with the owners.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will analyse the data from the tankers in the Minch voluntary reporting scheme, including details of the source of the report, ship's routing, and corroborating reports and estimate the proportion of ships transiting the Minch that are covered by the voluntary reporting scheme ; and when his Department intends to publish these data.
Mr. Norris : The Department receives reports made to the local coastguard on tankers in the Minch. Reports are analysed and where necessary follow up action is taken. At this time the Department cannot draw conclusions about total tanker traffic in the Minch. The Department will consider in due course how best to publish the information it has gathered taking account of any recommendations emerging from Lord Donaldson's inquiry.
Mr. Ainger : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the involvement of coastguard and other search and rescue services in an incident on 19 April at Stramore head, Pembrokeshire.
Mr. Norris : The incident involved the fishing vessel FV Kingfisher, which suffered engine failure off Stumble head on 19 April 1994, following which the craft drifted on to rocks and sustained damage, as a result of which it became flooded.
The owner-skipper contacted HM Coastguard MRSC Milford Haven on VHF, following which the RNLI lifeboat at Fishguard was launched to go to his assistance. In addition, rescue co-ordination centre at Plymouth was
Column 268asked for a helicopter, which was despatched from RAF Chivenor. In the event, the helicopter was not required and was released. The owner-skipper was recovered from the rocks below Stumble head by Fishguard lifeboat, which then pumped out the fishing vessel and towed it to port.
Dame Jill Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the benefits to be expected by passengers following the privatisation of the railways.
Mr. Freeman : The involvement of the private sector in taking responsibility for provision of passenger services will bring additional capital into the railway industry above that provided by the taxpayer and will also introduce new management skills and innovation aimed at meeting more fully the demands of the passenger.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of the United Kingdom's transport budget is currently spent on public transport ; and what are the comparable figures for other EU countries.
Mr. Freeman : In 1994-95, nearly 40 per cent. of the Government's total transport expenditure will be on public transport. Comparable figures for other EU countries are not readily available.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what date he announced the official scrutiny of Government research establishments ; if he will list those establishments which came under the terms of that review ; and what criteria he used to include research establishments in that review.
Mr. Waldegrave : I have been asked to reply.
In May 1993, the White Paper "Realising our Potential : A Strategy for Science, Engineering and Technology" announced the Government's intention to undertake a scrutiny of the public sector research establishments. I announced the terms of reference on 2 February and the bodies to be covered on 3 March at columns 809-11. The scrutiny is concentrating primarily on research establishments parented by civil departments and related laboratories in the research council system.
Mr. Gill : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many directives and regulations affecting the red meat industry are currently in force ; and how many have been rescinded during the lifetime of this Parliament.
Mr. Soames : The principal statutory instruments and European Community directives affecting the red meat industry in Great Britain which are currently in force number 18 and seven respectively. Some 20 statutory instruments have been rescinded or part-rescinded during the lifetime of this Parliament. Details are as follows :
Column 269The hygiene regulations affecting the red meat industry in Great Britain are the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1992--SI 1992 No. 2037--which implement directives
91/495/EEC--part--91/497/EEC and 91/498/EEC. Schedule 23 of these regulations lists the 20 regulations or orders, or parts thereof, revoked in the lifetime of this Parliament.
Directive 88/408/EEC on the financing of meat inspection was replaced in December 1993 by directive 93/118/EEC ; proposals for implementing this directive will be issued for consultation shortly. The current legislation on meat inspection charges is the Fresh Meat and Poultry Meat (Hygiene, Inspection and Examination for Residues) (Charges) Regulations 1990--SI 1990 No. 2494--and the Farmed Game Meat (Hygiene and Inspections) (Charges) Regulations 1993--SI 1993 No. 1369.
The Meat (Sterilisation and Staining) Regulations 1982--SI 1982 No. 1018-- as amended and the parallel Scottish legislation have been reviewed as part of the deregulation initiative and will shortly be replaced. The Bovine Offal (Prohibition) Regulations 1989--SI 1989 No. 2061--as amended have also been reviewed and are to be retained. Directive 90/675/EEC deals with importation of red meat and other animal products from third countries. The relevant GB regulations, principally the Importation of Animal Products and Poultry Products Order 1980--SI 1980 No. 14--as amended, the Products of Animal Origin (Import and Export) Regulations 1992--SI 1992 No. 3298--and the Products of Animal Origin (Third Country Imports) (Charges) Regulations 1992--SI 1992 No. 3299--are scheduled for review during 1994.
Directive 93/119/EEC, on the protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing, repeals directive 74/577 with effect from 1 January 1995. GB regulations to implement the new directive will replace four existing statutory instruments. These are the Slaughter of Animals (Humane Conditions) Regulations 1990--SI 1990 No. 1242--the Slaughter of Animals (Humane Conditions) (Scotland) Regulations 1990--SI 1990 No. 1240 (S 137)-- the Slaughter of Pigs (Anaesthesia) Regulations 1958--SI 1958 No. 1971--and the Slaughter of Pigs (Anaesthesia) (Amendment) Regulations 1984--SI 1984 No. 1310. The Beef Carcase (Classification) Regulations 1991--SI 1991 No. 2242--provide for the administration and enforcement of the Community system of classification of beef carcases as required by article 3 of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 1186/90.
The Pig Carcase (Grading) Regulations 1988, as amended--(SI 1988 No. 1180-- provide for the administration and enforcement of the Community system for grading pig carcases in slaughterhouses and implement Council Regulation (EEC) No. 3220/84.
The Processed Animal Protein Order 1989--SI 1989 No. 661--requires processors of animal protein to register with Agriculture Departments and take samples of their product and test them for salmonella. The Animal By- Products Order 1992--SI 1992 No. 3303--which implements directive 90/667/EEC, lays down rules for the disposal and processing of animal waste.
The Waste Food Order 1973--SI 1973 No. 1936--lays down rules for the processing of waste food not covered by SI 1989 No. 661 or SI 1992 No. 3303.