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|Number --------------------------------------- England |16,869,000 Northern Ireland |338,000 Scotland |1,724,000 Wales |1,066,000
Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what assessment has been made by his Department of the value for money provided by the BBC to its viewers, in relation to the cost of a television licence and to the services provided by other networks.
Mr. Brooke : We appointed independent consultants, Touche Ross, in mid-1993 to advise on the level of the television licence fee from 1994-96. The study, as well as examining the BBC's progress in pursuing efficiency measures, included comparisons of the BBC's performance and staff costs with those of commercial broadcasters. A copy of the management summary of the study is in the Library. I announced the Government's decision on the future level of the licence fee on 4 November 1993 at columns 309-10.
Mr. Sproat [holding answer 27 June 1994] : I visited the Yorkshire mining museum on Friday 10 December. I was very impressed by what I saw. The chairman of the trustees, Councillor Norman Hartshorne, the then
Column 553vice-chairman, Councillor Robert Mitchell, and the director of the museum, Dr. Margaret Faull, explained to me the financial difficulties which the museum would face, following the restructuring of the coal industry. These difficulties arose mainly from the fact that the traditional help in kind to the museum from British Coal would no longer be available. I said that I would do everything I properly could, consistent with the DNH's relationship with other museums, to help.
The Government have now decided that the Department of National Heritage will receive additional provision in order to give the Yorkshire mining museum, the only mining museum in England with underground workings, transitional assistance of £300,000, spread over three years. The Museums and Galleries Commission has agreed to administer the provision of this financial assistance. My officials will shortly be discussing with the commission the arrangements for doing this.
I shall be looking for further, non-financial ways to help ensure the profitable continuance of the Yorkshire mining museum--although I emphasise that the future of the Yorkshire mining museum is for its trustees to determine. I wrote on Friday 24 June to the director of the museum suggesting an early meeting to discuss such matters. In the meantime, I have asked Sir Neil Cossons, director of the National Museum of Science and Industry, if he would be prepared to give the Yorkshire mining museum his advice on a wide range of relevant subjects, including sponsorship. He has generously agreed. The future of the mining museums, so central to the history of Britain's industrial development, and thus to her wealth, and to her role and influence in the rest of the world, will be one of the subjects to which I want to pay particular attention in the review that my Department is undertaking of our policy towards the whole museum sector.
I should like to thank my hon. Friend, the Member for Batley and Spen (Mrs. Peacock) my hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate (Mr. Banks), the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe) and the hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Gunnell) among others on both sides of the House, for their valuable advice.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Attorney-General how many contracts and for what total sum were let out by his Department and agencies for which it is responsible to (a) Coopers and Lybrand, (b) KPMG Peat Marwick, (c) Ernst and Young, (d) Price Waterhouse, (e) Arthur Andersen, (f) Touch Ross, (g) Grant Thornton, (h) Robson Rhodes and (i) Pannell Kerr Forster for (i) privatisation, (ii) market testing, (iii) management advise, (iv) accounting, (v) audit, (vi) consultancy and (vii) other services in (1) 1980 to 1983, (2) 1984 to 1987, (3) 1988 to 1991 and (4) 1992-93.
£ thousands Sums<1>/Contracts<3> |1980-83 |1984-87 |1988-92<5> |1992-93 Firms<3> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Coopers & Lybrand (vii) |- |- |1,374 (4) |2,233 (2) KPMG Peat Marwick (vi) |- |- |100<4>(1) |- (vii) |- |- |1,397 (4) |2,431 (0) Ernst & Young (vii) |- |- |963 (7) |250 (0) Price Waterhouse (ii) |- |- |- |5 (1) (vii) |- |- |1,528 (5) |264 (0) Arthur Andersen (vii) |- |- |96 (1) |- Touche Ross (vi) |- |- |9 (1) |5 (1) (vii) |- |- |426 (4) |11 (0) Grant Thornton (vii) |- |- |1,072 (5) |109 (0) Robson Rhodes (vii) |- |- |146 82) |5 (0) Pannell Kerr Forster |- |- |- |- <1> The sums of money are the amounts spent on contracts, both new and continuing, during the financial years covered by the period. <2> The figures in brackets are the number of new contracts let during the financial years covered by the period. <3> Includes predecessor firms. <4> Estimate. <5> 31 March 1992.
Mr. Atkins : Recovery of household waste will increase dramatically as a result of the producer responsibility challenges which we have set for the packaging and newsprint industries and others. Packaging alone is over 20 per cent. of household waste and the industry draft plan aims to recover 58 per cent. of packaging waste by 2000 and to extend close-to-home recycling facilities to eight out of 10 homes.
Mr. Gummer : Our policy is to help promote recycling through a wide range of measures including the recent producer responsibility initiative, which means that those who make and sell products and packaging should take a share of responsibility for the beneficial re-use of their waste. Current producer responsibility initiatives cover packaging, newspapers, batteries, tyres, vehicles and electronic equipment.
9. Mr. Connarty : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with the chairmen of the main water companies about the introduction of compulsory water metering for domestic households.
Mr. Atkins : The Secretary of State has discussions with the chairmen of water companies from time to time. Alternative methods of charging to replace rateable values are sometimes discussed. It is for each company to decide on an appropriate basis for charging, but metering, which relates charges to consumption, has many advantages.
Mr. Gummer : The Government encourage local authorities to make full use of their powers under section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. They should also adopt appropriate policies in their development plans and under planning legislation to protect such sites.
16. Mr. Harvey : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to revise future revenue support grant allocations to local authorities, so as to improve the sums granted to councils in Devon and Cornwall relative to those in the south east of England.
17. Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to ensure that the Mediterranean countries are enforcing EC directives on water quality at the same speed and in same way as in Britain ; and if he will make a statement about cross-border enforcement.
Column 556Community is signatory. The United Kingdom Government have continued to press for effective and consistent enforcement of directives, and the Commission now makes annual reports on implementation to the Environment Council.
Mrs. Helen Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 17 May, Official Report, column 393, what requirements of the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 1989 concern product specifications for sewerage pipe.
20. Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what recent representatives he has received from British or foreign non-governmental organisations concerning the posing of environmental risks by the THORP.
21. Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from hon. Members for Warwickshire constituencies about local government reorganisation in the county.
Mr. Curry : Since the announcement of the acceleration of the Local Government Commission's reviews on 30 September, Ministers in the Department have received the following letters from hon. Members in Warwickshire specifically on local government structure in the county :
Alan Howarth--5 November 1993 and 17 May 1994
Mike O'Brien--12 October 1993
James Pawsey--5 October 1993 and 31 May 1994
Sir Dudley Smith--15 October 1993
Mr. Atkins : My predecessor, the hon. Member for Suffolk, South (Mr. Yeo), met the chairman of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee last July to discuss a range of topics including the committee's priorities and budget. I will be holding a similar meeting with the Earl of Selborne before the summer recess.
23. Mr. Rooker : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average number of electors per councillor in (a) metropolitan districts, (b) London boroughs and (c) shire districts, including county councillors.
Mr. Curry : The number of councillors on each council in England is not prescribed in primary legislation but has been determined, by order, for individual authorities on the basis of recommendations from the Local Government Boundary Commission.
The LGBC did however establish an average ratio of councillors to electorate to act as a guideline in drawing up its recommendations. The average number of electors per councillor used by the LGBC was :
|Number ------------------------------------- Metropolitan districts |4,540 London Boroughs |4,530 Shire Counties |9,280 Shire districts |2,140
25. Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the progress of consulting on and implementing the recommendations of the Local Government Commission.
We do not have overall figures for the expenditure incurred indirectly by central Government, or directly by local authorities, on the local government review.
Mr. Atkins : I hope to make a statement on future air quality standards for benzene in the autumn, when we have completed consideration of responses to our recent consultation paper, "Improving Air Quality".
Mr. Atkins : We published wide-ranging consultation proposals on the further improvement of air quality in March. We will announce our conclusions on the next steps later in the year when we have considered responses to the consultation.
Mr. Atkins : A total of 365 or 80 per cent. of United Kingdom bathing waters, complied with the relevant standards of the EC directive over the 1993 bathing season. The substantial programme of improvements to non-compliant waters is designed to bring virtually all the waters up to standard for the 1996 season.
Mr. Baldry : This is not a matter for the Government, and I have no such plans. If there are allegations of impropriety or illegality they should be referred to the independent auditor appointed to audit the city council's accounts.
Sir George Young : We are aware that there are problems of poor design and construction in some of Basildon's housing, in particular that built by the former new town development corporation. Very substantial resources are being invested in renovation or redevelopment, with help from the Estate Action and Housing Partnership programmes and under the terms of transfer of the new town housing.
Mr. Baldry : There is no exemption for disabled people from the council tax. However, people who are severely mentally impaired are not counted in the personal element of the tax and their presence will not add to the household's bill. Disabled persons may be entitled to a one band reduction in council tax if they need extra rooms or more space as a result of their special needs than would otherwise be the case.
Mr. Baldry : Opencast coal mining is subject to the same planning law that applies to all mineral extraction. However, my Department has recently completed public consultation on draft revised planning guidelines for coal extraction and colliery spoil disposal which set tough environmental tests. New guidance will be published as soon as possible.
Mr. Baldry : According to statistics compiled by the County Planning Officers' Society, 10.07 million tonnes of opencast coal were produced in England during the period 1 April 1992 to 31 March 1993. The equivalent figures for Scotland and Wales are 5.4 million tonnes and 2.38 million tonnes.
Sir George Young : The Bullring at Waterloo is one of five areas specifically targeted under the Government's £180 million rough sleepers initiative in central London. A consortium of statutory and voluntary agencies, chaired by the London borough of Lambeth, is co- ordinating activity in the area. The Government are funding voluntary sector outreach and resettlement workers to assess the needs of the individuals sleeping rough in the Bullring and to assist them into suitable accommodation.
Mr. Atkins : The main environmental directives still to be legally transposed in the United Kingdom are the nitrates directive, the urban waste water treatment directive and the habitats directive. The steps necessary to give effect to these are well in hand.
Sir George Young : I refer the hon. Member to the answer my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State gave to the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) on 14 April 1994 at column 239.
Column 560Wales, to establish joint or special planning boards for the three national parks in Wales. However, it is our intention to introduce legislation to establish independent authorities for all 10 national parks in England and Wales as soon as there is a suitable opportunity to do so.
Mrs. Helen Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what responsibilities the Director General of Ofwat has for monetary arrangements for the certification of products used by water and sewerage companies.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he received the 14th annual report from his Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee ; and what response he plans to make to the recommendations made by Professor Knill's committee.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will request the chairman of British Nuclear Fuels to make available to hon. Members copies of the BNFL submissions to the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee on the matter of nuclear waste substitution options for foreign reprocessing waste arisings, since his deposition before Parliament on 25 June last year of his correspondence with the chairman of RWMAC on the matter.
Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he received the final draft of the Ernst and Young study into the housing needs of the elderly ; what was the final cost of the study ; when the report will be placed in the Library ; what conclusions he has drawn from the report ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir George Young : My Department received a full set of interim reports on the 12 individual parts of the study in February 1994. We expect to publish a single report, summarising these findings, in the autumn. A copy will be placed in the Library.
I announced some interim findings from the research at a conference on affordable housing and community care organised by Hertfordshire county council earlier this year. A key finding is that the vast majority of elderly people wish to remain in their present homes, confirming the Government's community care policies. The study also suggests there is currently an over-provision of ordinary sheltered housing with warden support only, but under-provision of very sheltered housing with extra care facilities. We will consider carefully the policy implications of these and other findings from the study.
Column 561Following a competitive tender, the research contract was let to Ernst and Young and its sub-contractor, MORI, at a cost of £956,000.
Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will ensure that appropriate technical assistance is made available for applications under objectives 2 and 5 (b) of European structural funds.
Mr. Baldry : Technical assistance grants are available only from within the United Kingdom's structural funds allocation. If any such grants are made, the amount left for projects is correspondingly smaller. Therefore, the Government consider that the funds should be used primarily for projects, and have sought to minimise the use of technical assistance.
Normal practice should be that applicants bear the cost of making applications themselves. This ensures equity between applicants and it is a sound principle that applicant bodies should pay for their own administration.
As in all other fields, Government Departments and offices will gladly assist those who may have difficulty in completing applications. However, it is recognised that there may be some organisations, especially in the voluntary sector, who may need extra help. Limited technical assistance may exceptionally be made available to support recognised bodies in bringing forward high quality applications.
Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what contracts for refuse collection, cleansing waste management and waste control have been awarded by local authorities to (a) UK Waste Management Ltd., (b) the FOCSA and (c) Leigh ; and what is the total value in each case.
Mr. Baldry : My right hon. Friend does not require local authorities to inform him to whom contracts are awarded, unless such information is requested in connection with his responsibility for investigating potential breaches of the compulsory competitive tendering legislation. The Department does not therefore maintain a comprehensive record of either the number or value of contracts awarded to specific private sector contractors.
Mrs. Golding : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is her estimate of the cost of providing public housing or other publicly-funded residential care for people who are homeless in England ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir George Young : In 1992-93 40 per cent. of new tenancies in local authority and housing association stock were allocated to households whom local authorities accepted as homeless under part III of the Housing Act 1985. Over the three years 1992-93 to 1994-95 the Government are spending £5 billion on providing an estimated 179,000 housing association homes to meet a range of housing needs.