Previous Section Home Page

Mr. Baldry : This information is not available.

Water Quality

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what legal costs were incurred by the United Kingdom Government in defence of the actions taken by the European Commission over the bathing water directive, July 1993 and the drinking water directive, November 1992.

Mr. Atkins : The disbursements incurred on behalf of the United Kingdom in connection with the proceedings taken by the European Commission in the European Court of Justice concerning the bathing water directive, case C56/90, and the drinking water directive, case C337/89, were about £35,000. This figure includes counsel's fees, VAT, travelling and hotel accommodation, but does not otherwise include the costs of staff in the Treasury Solicitor's Department or of lawyers in the Department of the Environment who provided legal services and advised within the normal course of their duties.

Local Referendums

Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 24 May, Official Report, column 96, if he will list the powers available to local authorities which would allow them to hold referendums on particular issues.

Mr. Baldry : Local authorities do not have any specific powers to hold referendums but may be able to rely on the

Column 341

Local Government Act 1972, section 111-- subsidiary powers of local authorities--in conjunction with one or more of their functions ; section 141 of that Act--research and the collection of information ; and the Local Government Act 1985, section 88--research and collection of information.

Tenants' Cash Incentive Scheme

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much money has been made available to the London boroughs of (a) Southwark, (b) Lewisham, (c) Lambeth and (d) Tower Hamlets to operate the tenants' cash incentive scheme in the last 10 years ; how

Column 342

many council properties have been vacated as a result of the scheme in these areas during this period ; and if he will make a statement on the long-term future of the scheme.

Sir George Young : The tables show the resources allocated to the cash incentive scheme in each of these London boroughs, along with the resources actually spent and the number of vacancies created, since the scheme was introduced in 1989.

The cash incentive scheme is a cost-effective housing measure which enables local auathorities to improve the supply of affordable housing for rent to people in need, and at the same time assists households to buy a home of their own. We will continue to encourage local authorities to operate a scheme.

Column 341

Year                  |1989-90|1990-91|1991-92|1992-93|1993-94|1994-95        


(a) Southwark                                                                 

Own resources         |0      |£100k  |0      |0      |0      |0              

Government resources  |0      |£200k  |£825k  |£250k  |0      |£150k          

Total resources spent |0      |£89k   |£774k  |£198k  |0      |nyk            

Number of vacancies   |0      |10     |62     |15     |0      |<1>10          


(b) Lewisham                                                                  

Own resources         |0      |£800k  |£960k  |0      |0      |0              

Government resources  |0      |£200k  |£540k  |£450k  |0      |£180k          

Total resources spent |0      |£195k  |£484k  |£328k  |0      |nyk            

Number of vacancies   |0      |13     |33     |25     |0      |<1>12          


(c) Lambeth                                                                   

Own resources         |0      |0      |0      |0      |0      |0              

Government resources  |0      |0      |£1.14m |£1m    |0      |£540k          

Total resources spent |0      |0      |£1.10m |£920k  |0      |nyk            

Number of vacancies   |0      |0      |55     |46     |0      |<1>36          


(d) Tower Hamlets                                                             

Own resources         |0      |0      |£1.42m |0      |0      |£250k          

Government resources  |0      |0      |£580k  |£500k  |0      |£310k          

Total resources spent |0      |0      |£418k  |£378k  |0      |nyk            

Number of vacancies   |0      |0      |21     |23     |0      |<1>37          


1. No Government resources were made available in 1989-90 and 1993-94.        

2. nyk = Not yet known.                                                       

<1> These figures are estimated and assume the resources allocated will be    

spent in full.                                                                

Urban Waste Water

Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he intends to announce the designation of sensitive areas in accordance with annexe II A(b) and (c) of the urban waste water treatment directive (91/271/EEC).

Mr. Atkins : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 18 May to my hon. Friend the Member of Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) Official Report , column 513 .

Public Consultation

Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment in what circumstances it is his Department's practice, when issuing a public consultation document, to inform those consulted that their responses will be made public unless they explicitly ask for them to be kept confidential ; and if he will arrange for his Department to do so in all cases in future.

Mr. Baldry : It is normal practice in the Department of the Environment, except in relation to some detailed technical consultations, technical exercises by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution and the London consultation exercise where respondents were informed

Column 342

that their names and addreses would be treated in confidence, to inform those consulted that all responses may be made publicly available unless respondents have requested that their comments should be treated as confidential.

Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what public opinion surveys his Department or consultants to his Department have conducted into the attitude of people in (a) West Cumbria or (b) the United Kingdom towards the policy option to return to Japan high-level waste arising from reprocessing at Sellafield.

Mr. Atkins : None.

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether British Nuclear Fuels plc is in breach of planning conditions regarding the importation of spent fuel to the THORP receipt and storage facility ; what action he is planning to take to enforce the planning condition ; and if he will require BNFL to cease importation immediately in the interim.

Mr. Baldry : I am not aware that BNFL is in breach of any conditions attached to the planning permission for the

Column 343

THORP receipt and storage facility at Sellafield. If it is, responsibility for taking appropriate enforcement action rests with Copeland borough council in the first place. I have no plans to require BNFL to cease importation of spent fuel.

Shared Ownership Schemes

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many properties bought under shared ownership schemes have been repossessed.

Sir George Young : Information on the number of repossessions of properties bought under shared ownership schemes is not collected by my Department and is not held centrally.

Right to Buy

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many properties bought under the right to buy scheme have been found to have some form of structural defect which was undetected at the time of purchase.

Sir George Young : Following comprehensive studies by the Building Research Establishment, 24 dwelling types in England have been designated as inherently structurally defective under part XVI of the Housing Act 1985. Where owners purchased such properties from public sector landlords before the defects became known, they were given rights to assistance under the 1985 Act. Local authorities estimated that there were almost 31,000 properties whose owners qualified for assistance under the scheme. Statistics are not held centrally on how many of those properties were bought under the right to buy scheme.

Civil Servants (Outside Appointments)

Mr. Milburn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many job offers were reported by staff in his Department under the requirements of the rules on the acceptance of outside appointments in each of the last 10 years by (a) staff of grade 3 and above, (b) staff below grade 3, (c) staff in sections concerned with procurement or contract work, under section 15 of the rules of 1 February 1993 and (d) staff in other sections, under section 14 ; and how many of these reports were followed by an application to join the company concerned.

Mr. Baldry : Information about offers of outside employment to staff in this Department is not recorded.

Bathing Beaches

Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which bathing beaches fail environmental standards because of seagulls.

Column 344

Mr. Atkins : No bathing waters are considered to fail the bacteriological standards of the bathing water directive consistently because of seagulls. However, as the tests under the directive do not distinguish between human and other sources of faecal pollution it is possible that contamination by mammals and birds will contribute to occasional failures.

Parish Polls

Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 23 May, Official Report, column 86, if he will make it his policy to collect information on parish polls.

Mr. Baldry : We have no plans at present to adopt such a policy.

Water Supplies

Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the occasions in the last five years when a water authority or company has supplied water which has been found to be unhealthy, stating the water authority or company involved in each case.

Mr. Atkins : In 1992 water companies in England and Wales carried out approximately 3.75 million tests of the various parameters by which compliance with the standards for drinking water are assessed. Of these tests, 98.7 per cent. demonstrated compliance with the relevant water quality standard. There is no evidence that any of the contraventions was of such a magnitude or duration as to endanger the health of consumers.

Since the drinking water inspectorate was established on 2 January 1990, it has been informed by water companies of 295 incidents which affected, or threatened to affect, drinking water quality. To date no water companies have been prosecuted for supplying water unfit for human consumption.

Property Services Agency

Mr. Fatchett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment on the latest available figures, if he will set out (a) by company, the money received for the sale of the Property Services Agency and (b) the cost of redundancy and early retirement following the sale of the agency.

Mr. Curry [holding answer Wednesday 25 May 1994] : On (a), I refer the hon. Member to the replies given to him on 19 January and 3 February 1994 on the proceeds from the sale, which have not changed. Updated information on (b), is set out in the table below, in the same format as the 3 February 1994 reply for completeness.

Column 343

                                           |BM Scotland      |BM Manchester    |BM SouthEast     |BM South and West|BM Noreast                         


Number of redundancies                     |210              |217              |320              |203              |335                                

Of these:                                                                                                                                              

Total number made redundant by purchasers  |0                |10               |3                |3                |5                                  

Cost of redundancies £ million             |8.6              |8.8              |12.6             |8.2              |16.0                               

Column 345


Sir John Stanley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the number of official gipsy sites in each local authority area in England for which statistics are collected.

Mr. Baldry [holding answer Thursday 26 May 1994] : My Department publishes annually in January a list of gipsy sites in England based on information provided by local authorities. The most recent list, January 1994, has been placed in the House of Commons Library.

Compulsory Competitive Tendering

Mr. Hendry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he proposes to take against those local authorities whose direct labour organisations failed to meet their statutory financial objectives for 1992-93.

Mr. Baldry : In March this year, 27 statutory notices were served on 12 local authorities concerning the failure of their direct labour organisations to meet the required financial objective in 1992-93. Further notices were served in May and others will be served over the next few months.

My right hon. Friend has now considered the responses of those authorities on which notices were served on 21 March. He has today given directions to East Cambridgeshire--other catering ; East Yorkshire--building maintenance, highways and sewerage ; the London borough of Haringey--highways and sewerage ; Hastings--highways and sewerage, ground maintenance, other catering ; Maidstone--building maintenance and sport and leisure management ; and North Hertfordshire--ground maintenance.

These directions take three different forms :

Preventing authorities from carrying out the defined activities after September 1995 if they fail to meet the required financial objectives for the work during the current year, 1994-95. East Yorkshire, Maidstone (building maintenance) and North Hertfordshire were given directions of this sort.

Requiring authorities to seek the Secretary of State's consent if they wish to award work on the defined activity to their DLO following retendering which is currently underway. East Cambridgeshire, Hastings and Maidstone (sport and leisure management) fall into this category.

Preventing the authority from carrying out elements of the defined activity through its own DLO. Haringey's direction fell into this category.

The Secretary of State has also decided to take no further statutory action in respect of financial failure in 1992-93 by : Huntingdonshire (ground maintenance), Lancashire (ground maintenance), North Hertfordshire (sport and leisure management, vehicle maintenance), Sheffield (building cleaning, school and welfare catering) and Staffordshire Moorlands (ground maintenance) because they met their financial objectives in 1993-94 ;

Mid Bedfordshire (sport and leisure management) because the work in question is to be contracted out.

He is still considering responses from Burnley borough council--building maintenance, ground maintenance, new construction work, other catering, other cleaning, refuse collection ; and from Sheffield City Council--refuse collection, other cleaning, and other catering.

I am pleased to say that the majority of DLOs operate successfully, and provide a cost-effective service to local taxpayers. Local authorities have now had over five years' experience of CCT--over 10 years in the case of building and construction work. There is no reason why all DLOs

Column 346

should not be able to operate to the prescribed financial standard. The number of notices being served this year reflects the fact that we are now taking statutory action against all DLOs recording any significant financial failures. I am also pleased to note that, in many cases where financial losses have been incurred, local authorities have taken prompt action to put matters right.

Mr. Hendry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he intends to make regulations to extend compulsory competitive tendering to all local authority highway work by abolishing the present competition- free allowance.

Mr. Baldry : Regulations made under sections 7, 9 and 23 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 amending the Local Government (Direct Labour Organisations) (Competition) Regulations 1989 were laid before the House on 10 June. These come into force in England on 1 April 1995. The Government have consulted

representatives of local authorities on these proposals, and the start date of 1 April 1995, seven months later than first proposed, reflects authorities' comments and allows additional time for authorities to carry out tendering.

The regulations abolish the present 40 per cent. competition-free allowance for small general highways jobs undertaken by local authority direct labour organisations and remove the exemption from competition of winter maintenance work. Recent Audit Commission research showed that the progressive extension of competition for highways work had produced cost savings while maintaining standards of service. These amendments are in accord with the Government's aim to increase the areas of local authority work subject to competition to promote greater efficiency, to give greater value for money to local taxpayers, and to improve the quality of services.

Mr. Hendry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the Government's proposals for the extension of compulsory competitive tendering to further local authority services.

Mr. Baldry : Compulsory competitive tendering is being extended to six professional support services, in a phased programme--legal services, professional construction and property services, IT, finance, personnel, and corporate and administrative services. Detailed proposals for each service are being developed in close and very productive consultation with the local authority associations, the Audit Commission, the Accounts Commission for Scotland and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. The Government also propose to extend CCT to three further manual

services--management of on-street parking, security work and vehicle management.

Detailed consultation proposals for legal CCT and for the manual services were issued by my Department on 15 December 1993 and 16 November 1993 respectively. The Government have now considered the responses received from local authorities, the Law Society and other interested parties, and I have today tabled an order under section 2 (3) of the Local Government Act 1988 which will provide, subject to resolution of both Houses of Parliament, for these services to become "defined activities" for the purpose of CCT.

I hope that the debates on the order will take place shortly. Subject to Parliament's approval of the order, the

Column 347

Government will then make regulations under section 6 (3) of the 1988 Act, to establish the competition requirement and start dates. As regards legal services, the Government have concluded that the proportion of authorities' legal activity to be subject to CCT should be 45 per cent., as suggested in the consultation proposals. I have carefully considered the suggestion that the competition figure should be lower, but I feel confident that the proposed figure--subject also to a minimum in-house provision of £300,000 to safeguard the position of small authorities--will enable authorities to gain the benefits of competition across a wide range of their legal work, while ensuring that authorities can maintain the necessary in-house legal expertise. The minimum figure of £300,000 will be reviewed periodically to ensure that it continues to meet its purpose.

The Government propose that authorities will be able to count the following categories of legal work towards meeting their CCT requirement : work carried out in-house following a voluntary competitive exercise ; work carried out for locally managed schools ; legal work related to housing management, where this service will become subject to CCT at a later date for the authority in question ; legal work in support of other local authority activity which itself has been exposed to CCT and legal work already contracted out. In response to comments received, the draft order provides that, where individual members of staff spend less than 50 per cent. of their time on legal work, their time will not be included in the authority's aggregate of defined legal activity. We propose that the same cut-off figure will apply to the other professional support services also. This will reduce the administrative effort of operating CCT.

We also propose that legal services will become subject to CCT from April 1996 in the London boroughs and English metropolitan districts. This will, I believe, allow authorities good time to prepare specifications and carry out tendering. For the English shire authorities, CCT will come into effect following local government review and the determination of each authority's new structure. Separate timetables will apply in Scotland and Wales.

CCT requires authorities to operate free and fair competition. My Department will this week be issuing guidance to local authorities and others on the conduct of tendering for white collar services. This guidance reflects valuable comments received on the consultation draft, and it emphasises that quality of service should be fully considered alongside price, in selecting the best tender proposal. The Government have also considered responses to the consultation proposals issued on 22 February 1994 for the internal accounting framework to accompany the introduction of professional CCT. As indicated in the consultation proposals, authorities will be required to establish and publish a "Statement of Support Service Costs" as part of their annual accounts. Regulations under section 23 of the Local Government Finance Act 1982 to this effect will be made shortly. The new statements will identify the costs of each of the six support services to an authority, providing local taxpayers and authorities' members and managers with valuable new information. In order that SSSCs can cover all six support services from the outset, SSSCs will start in 1995-96 for the London boroughs and metropolitan districts. For the shire authorities. SSSCs will come into effect following local government review. The Chartered Institute of Public

Column 348

Finance and Accountancy is writing guidance material to assist authorities prepare SSSCs, which it expects to complete and publish in the autumn.

As the Minister for Transport in London and I told the House on 30 March-- Official Report, columns 755 and 867, the three further manual services will become subject to CCT from October 1995 in the London boroughs and metropolitan districts, and following local government review in the case of the English shire authorities. The definitions of the further manual services have been clarified, following comments on the consultation proposals. We are discussing further with the local authority association provisions for exempting security work undertaken under byelaws which grant local authority officers powers of enforcement. I will make a further announcement in due course.

Some 266 responses were received on the consultation proposals for legal CCT, 114 on those for the internal accounting framework, and 200 on those for the manual services. I have placed lists of responses in the Library.

Local Government Management

Mr. Hendry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what changes he proposes to make to the councillor's allowances system in the light of the recommendations of the joint working party on internal management of local government in England ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Baldry : The Government have accepted the recommendation of the working party on the internal management of local government that local authorities should have much greater discretion in deciding how much councillors should be paid in allowances. We agree with the working party that the present system is too prescriptive and that it places an unnecessary bureaucratic burden on local authorities. The changes that we propose to make will remove that burden and will encourage people with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and skills to serve as councillors. Removing the ceiling on the allowance that leading councillors can be paid will allow local authorities to give more adequate remuneration to those councillors with special responsibilities. There will be no overall increase in public expenditure as a consequence of these changes.

I have today written to those who chair the local authority associations seeking their views on the proposals that we are making. Copies of my letter to the associations have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Severance Pay

Mr. Hendry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he proposes to announce new severance pay proposals for local government employees ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Baldry : We are today beginning consultations with local government and other interested parties on new severance pay regulations to complement the Local Government (Compensation for Premature Retirement) Regulations 1982. Local authority associations, local authorities and other local government interests are being invited to submit representations by 13 July. Copies of the consultation material are being placed in the Library. We intend, subject to any further representations, to make and lay the regulations before the House in the summer.

Column 349

We are proposing to give councils new powers to allow one-off payments to categories of pensioners who had their pensions reduced as a consequence of the Court of Appeal's judgment in Allsop v. North Tyneside.

Our proposals also give councils the opportunity to provide improved levels of severance pay both for general cases of redundancy as a result of local government reorganisation. In developing our proposals we have considered carefully the advice of the Local Government Staff Commission (England) and views expressed by other interested parties.

I am satisfied that these proposals are both fair in comparison with other public service schemes and affordable to local government. They provide a good statutory framework to help compensate employees made redundant and the terms proposed compare favourably with those available to other public sector employees.

These proposals do not cover the staff commission's recommendations to compensate employees for reductions in pay--detriment--on which a further announcement will be made shortly.

Costs of all severance packages must be met from authorities' own resources and not from local authority pension funds. Future local government finance settlements will take account of the transitional costs of local government reorganisation, including those due to severance payments.


Aggregate, Race Bank

Mr. Morley : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what royalties the National Rivers Authority will pay the Crown Estate Commissioners for aggregate dredged from Race bank.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke : No decision has been made under the Government view procedure that Race bank will be the source of material for the Mablethorpe to Skegness coast protection scheme. If Race bank material is used, the NRA will pay the Crown Estate a royalty based upon the current commercial royalty rate in the area taking into account the quantity, quality, grade and location of the material used.


Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list for each of the last five years the cost to public funds of consultancy work provided by (a) KPMG Peat Marwick, (b) Touche Ross, (c) Price Waterhouse, (d) Ernst and Young, (e) CSL, (f) Prime, (g) Basis, (h) Theodore Goddard, (i) Dibb Lupton Broomhead, (j) Capita and (k) Shreeveport to his Department ; and if he will list any other firms which have provided consultancy work and the costs to public funds for each of the last five years.

Mr. Nelson : The list gives the firms which have provided consultancy work to Her Majesty's Treasury since 1991-92. I regret that information going back beyond this date can be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The list gives a total value for each year but is not specifically broken down by firm. As some firms have only had single contracts for each year, giving information in the way

Column 350

asked would breach our commercial in confidence rules. The list excludes contracts awarded to individuals, academics and academic institutions.

(£ million)


Value of consultancy work (ex VAT) £9.4 million

Firms involved :

BDO Binder Hamlyn

Delta Dimensions

Moody Int. Dev.

Price Waterhouse

Touche Ross & Co.


Transtech Conslt. Services

Allen & Overy

Davis Polk & Wardwell

Dewe Rogerson

Hamada & Matsumoto

Linklaters & Paines

Mitsui Yasuda Wani & Maeda

Stikeman Elliott

S. G. Warburg

1992-93 £2.2 million

Firms involved :

A'Time Ltd.

BDO Binder Hamlyn

Dorothy Bond Interiors

Bywater Plc.

Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte

Delta Dimensions Ltd.

Demograft Recruitment Conslt.

Dunnett Shaw & Partners

Edmunds, Ray & Associates

Ernst & Young

Inenco Group

KPG Computer Support

KPMG Management Conslt.


Morgan Grenfell

Moody International Devlpmt.

Mouchel Management Ltd.

PMMS Consulting Group Ltd.

Prime Strategy Conslt.

Purcon Conslt. Ltd.

Price Waterhouse

Strategic Financial Mangmt. Ltd.


Tillers Financial Services


Arthur Walton & Partners

The Wyatt Company

Allen & Overy

Baring Brothers


Davis Polk & Wardwell

Dewe Rogerson

Linklaters & Paines

Solid Solutions

Touche Ross

S. G. Warburg


£5.9 million

Firms involved :

Archilles Conslt.

BDO Binder Hamlyn

Dorothy Bond Interiors

Capita Management Conslt.

Coopers & Lybrand

Davis Langdon Conslt.

D. W. Diamond Management Conslt.

Dunnett Shaw & Partners

Ernst & Young

Ground Modelling Systems Ltd.

Grosvenor Conslt. Services

Hay Management Conslt. Ltd.

Kingsley Lord Ltd.

KPG Computer Support

KPMG Peat Marwick

Next Section

  Home Page