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Sir George Young [holding answer 3 May 1994] : The total discounted values of all council dwellings sold in Nottinghamshire between April 1980 and December 1993, as reported by local authorities, are in the table. No estimates have been made for those periods where data have not been supplied by a local authority or were incomplete. Actual cash receipts for the period will depend on the extent to which sales had been financed by loans from the authorities.
Nottinghamshire Discounted value of all sales Local authority |£ million ---------------------------------------------------- Ashfield |36.7 Bassetlaw |32.1 Broxtowe |29.6 Gedling |34.8 Mansfield |30.9 Newark and Sherwood |28.5 Nottingham |106.3 Rushcliffe |21.8
Mr. Walden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the planning constraints on the erection of telecomunication masts.
Mr. Baldry : A planning application is required for the erection of masts above 15 m and for all masts in protected areas such as conservation areas and areas of outstanding natural beauty. A general planning permission is granted for the erection of masts of up to 15 m in height, under the Town and Country Planning General Development Order 1988. However, local planning authorities do have powers to intervene in such cases to require the approval of the siting and appearance of a proposed mast if they consider it would seriously threaten amenity.
Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many additional staff his Department has taken on to deal with the responses to the consultation paper "Access to Local Authority and Housing Association Tenancies" ;
(2) how many staff are dealing with responses to his Department's consultation paper "Access to Local Authority and Housing Association Tenancies" ;
(3) how many of the responses to his Department's consultation paper "Access to Local Authority and Housing Association Tenancies" have been from hon. and right hon. Members.
Sir George Young : Of the 10 members of the Department's homelessness policy division whose work is associated with the responses to the consultation paper "Access to Local Authority and Housing Association Tenancies", four were taken on specifically to handle the volume of responses, which include over 500 communications from right hon. and hon. Members, most of which were forwarding letters from their constituents.
Ms Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment for what reasons the Limehouse link tunnel is to be closed between 5 May and 10 May ; what repairs are due to be undertaken ; and what is the estimated cost of these repairs.
Sir George Young : The eastbound sliproad of the Limehouse link tunnel is to be closed to improve drainage. This remedial work is covered under the contractor's liability warranty. The cost is not known.
The main route from The Highway to Aspen way and the royal docks will remain open.
Mr. Clifton-Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will set out the circumstances in which the demolition of dry stone walls requires planning permission.
Mr. Baldry : In general, planning permission is required for the demolition of any gate, fence, or wall, including dry stone walls. But in particular cases, it is for the local planning authority to decide whether demolition is sufficiently minor or immaterial to fall outside planning control.
Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans his Department has (a) to utilise the Internet, (b) to make available on the Internet press releases and other departmental information which the public may wish to have access to and (c) to use the Internet as a means of increasing the openness of his Department.
Mr. Baldry : Press releases from my Department are already available on the Internet via commercial database hosts used by the Central Office of Information. There are some technical features, however, which currently make wider use of Internet impractical, although we are planning various improvements in electronic information exchange.
Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his estimate of additional staffing requirements of the National Rivers Authority if the responsibility for administration of the Reservoirs Act 1975 is transferred to the authority.
Mr. Atkins : This would depend on the arrangements that the National Rivers Authority chose to make and on the extent to which--like some of the local authorities currently responsible--it chose to employ consultants to do the work. Since there would be a merger of the two separate existing registers of large, raised reservoirs and of impounding licences, less staff effort overall should be needed.
Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to change the administration of the Reservoirs Act 1975 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : As described in "Deregulation : Cutting Red Tape", the Government have proposed to merge in England and Wales the two separate existing registers of large, raised reservoirs--the responsibility, under the Reservoirs Act 1975, of certain local authorities--and of impounding licences--the responsibility, under the Water Resources Act 1991, of the National Rivers Authority--in view of the substantial overlap between the two registers.
Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list those local authorities which he considers to have been neglectful in carrying out their duties under the Reservoirs Act 1975.
Mr. Atkins : I have no reason to think that any local authority has been ineffective in carrying out its functions under the Reservoirs Act 1975 : however, over 10 per cent. of the authorities concerned have still not sent to my Department the report on the previous two years statutorily required to be made by 1 April 1993.
Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the estimated cost to local authorities of carrying out their duties under the Reservoirs Act 1975.
Mr. Atkins : When the Reservoirs Act 1975 was implemented in 1985, the additional current expenditure by local authorities was described as insignificant. No subsequent estimate has been made.
Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the number of cases in each local authority where enforcement under the Reservoirs Act 1975 has been carried out in each of the past five years.
Mr. Atkins : Reports are required every two years : the number of enforcement actions reported in England has been :
|Number ---------------------- 1987-89 |14 1989-91 |10 1991-93 |<1>3 <1>In the reports so far received.
Mr. Clifton-Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps his Department is taking to ensure that when tenders for public work are invited by local authorities that they are in realistic commercial terms and without unnecessary contingent liabilities.
Mr. Curry : Local authority tendering procedures are governed by European rules and United Kingdom law as well as authorities' own standing orders. Authorities make their own decisions on the way in which they invite tenders, subject to the law and to financial propriety. They have a fiduciary duty to their taxpayers to operate effectively and efficiently and to secure the best value for money in the discharge of their functions. They must also justify their actions to the independent auditor appointed by the Audit Commission to check their accounts.
In the case of work subject to compulsory competitive tendering, authorities are under a specific statutory duty not to act in any way which may restrict, distort or prevent competition. My Department has issued guidance on the fair conduct of CCT, and has statutory power to take action against authorities acting in an anti-competitive way.
Mr. Winnick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will state the number of local authority housing starts for 1977-78 and the number of such starts so far in 1993-94.
Sir George Young : Housing associations are now the main providers of new social housing. Local authorities' primary housing tasks are the efficient management of their own stock of dwellings and enabling other organisations to provide new housing.
Local authorities in England started 78,580 dwellings during the financial year 1977-78. Provisional figures show that they started some 570 dwellings during the first 11 months of the financial year 1993-94. Provisional figures for the full financial year 1993-94 will be published by my Department on 10 May 1994.
Mr. Nigel Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to improve funding for the Energy Saving Trust's conservation projects.
Mr. Atkins : Funding for schemes sponsored by the Energy Saving Trust comes from a variety of sources. The
Column 69Director General of Gas Supply has questioned the suitability of the trust's schemes for funding from one of these sources, the so-called E factor levy on gas consumers. In the light of these reservations and of future changes in the gas and electricity industries, an inter-departmental working group of officials is looking at alternative options for the longer term.
Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if a fiche d'impact was prepared on the proposal for a Council directive concerning the quality of bathing water 94C 112/03, COM (94) 36 final- 94/0006 (SYN), submitted by the Commission on 29 March ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : In the financial statement attached to the proposal, the Commission states that, on balance, the burden on member states will be reduced. The Government will be making their own assessment of the cost implications for the United Kingdom of the proposal.
Mr. Burden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many of the outstanding council tax banding appeals have been scheduled for a hearing.
Mr. Curry : Around 45,000 appeals had been listed for hearing--but not yet heard--at valuation tribunals in England by the end of March. We expect, however, that the great majority of cases will be settled by agreement between the Valuation Office Agency and the taxpayer without the need for a formal tribunal hearing and decision.
Mr. Milburn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will estimate the cost of employing consultants in connection with privatisation programmes in which his Department has been engaged since 1980.
Mr. Gummer [holding answer 4 May 1994] : The information requested is not held centrally by my Department and is obtainable only at disproportionate cost.