Column 326properties, together with the distribution of these properties by tenure, and the number of renovation grants committed in the most recent available year.
Sir George Young : The first table shows estimates of the numbers of unfit dwellings. The second table shows estimates of approvals of mandatory and discretionary renovation grants in England during the financial year 1993-94. Figures are provided for England. For figures for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, I refer the Member to the respective Secretaries of State.
Table 1: Unfit Dwellings: by Tenure and Region: England 1991 Thousands of dwellings Standard statistical |Owner occupied |Private rented |Local authority |Housing |Vacant |Total region |association ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Northern |31 |32 |21 |4 |10 |99 Yorkshire and Humberside |85 |27 |31 |2 |11 |156 East Midlands |90 |19 |22 |0 |7 |138 East Anglia |34 |15 |11 |2 |3 |65 Greater London |127 |56 |69 |24 |25 |301 South East |119 |64 |26 |5 |26 |239 South West |57 |33 |14 |0 |18 |123 West Midlands |39 |39 |29 |0 |9 |117 North West |132 |47 |42 |3 |36 |260 |--- |--- |--- |--- |--- |--- England |715 |333 |265 |41 |145 |1,498 Source: English House Condition Survey.
Table 2: Mandatory and discretionary renovation grants: Approvals 1993-94 Numbers of grants Standard statistical |Mandatory |Discretionary region ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Northern |2,750 |300 Yorkshire and Humberside |4,240 |1,040 East Midlands |4,110 |1,040 East Anglia |1,420 |90 Greater London |4,500 |520 South East |6,300 |1,100 South West |3,610 |340 West Midlands |4,590 |370 North West |5,200 |420 |--- |--- England |36,710 |5,230 Source: Estimated from reports by local authorities on the housing statistics return P1D.
Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what guidelines he has issued to local authority councillors in respect of using juveniles under local authority supervision for publicity purposes.
Mr. Baldry : None. The only guidelines on local authority publicity which my Department has issued is the 1988 code of recommended practice on local authority publicity which does not cover the use of juveniles for publicity purposes. I have placed a copy of the code in the Library.
Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what were the figures for carbon dioxide emissions resulting from household use of energy in the United Kingdom in each year since 1990 ; and what is the (a) estimate and (b) Government target for 2000.
Mr. Atkins : The 16th edition of the "Digest of Environmental Protection and Water Statistics" shows that emissions of carbon dioxide from household energy use were estimated to be 42 million tonnes of carbon- -MtC--in 1990, 44 MtC in 1991 and 43 MtC in 1992. Emissions in 1990 were relatively low because the year was particularly warm. The Government have not set a specific target for domestic sector emissions in 2000, although the measures announced in our climate change programme are expected to achieve a reduction of around 4 MtC below the underlying trend, which is currently expected to be about flat for the domestic sector.
Mr. Atkins : I have had no such discussions, but the possible impact of climate change on the financial services industry, including insurance, is one of the issues that will be addressed in the second assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, and my department is providing financial support for one United Kingdom expert who has been asked to act as a contributing author on that issue.
Sir George Young : The Government are aware of the continuing concern about the number of hotels in resort areas which are operating as benefit hostels and of the wider concern about safety standards in all houses in multiple occupation--HMOs.
Ministers share these concerns, but they are also anxious to avoid regulation unless it can be clearly demonstrated that such regulation is both essential and practical.
Local authorities already have considerable powers to improve standards in HMOs, and to establish HMO registration schemes. They also have a statutory duty to ensure adequate fire safety standards in the larger HMOs. The issue of benefit hostels raises separate considerations and planning controls relating to the conversion from hotel to hostel use have recently been tightened.
It is clearly necessary to consider carefully what more, if anything, needs to be done in both these areas. I have therefore instructed my officials in the Department of the Environment to begin immediate discussions with interested parties, on the case for a licensing system and how it might operate, with a view to issuing a formal consultation paper in the late summer. Full-scale licensing would require primary legislation and the paper will need to examine the scope for measures to tackle these problems both with or without legislation.
Mr. Byers : To ask the Secretary of State for Education on what occasions in the last 10 years he or a Minister in his Department has given a direction to civil servants to award a contract against the advice of the civil service ; what was the subject matter of the contract and its value ; and when it was awarded.
Mr. Byers : To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many conferences his Department has organised to promote the new code of practice for special educational needs ; when and where they are to be held ; what is the cost for a delegate from a school to attend ; and how much additional copies of the information packs on the code of practice will cost.
Mr. Forth : The Department, together with the Department of Health, the Welsh Office, the National Children's Bureau and the Council for Disabled Children, arranged six conferences to help disseminate the code of practice on the identification and assessment of special educational needs. The conferences were held in London on 15 June, Manchester on 21 June, York on 24 June, Cardiff on 1 July, Bristol on 5 July and Birmingham on 7 July. The cost of attendance for each delegate was £94.
Column 328Delegates were given an information pack including a copy of the code, the guide for parents and a handbook. Additional copies of the code and the guide for parents can be obtained free ; additional copies of the handbook cost £6.50 each.
Mrs. Golding : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what measures are being taken by courts in Staffordshire to protect child witnesses, with particular reference to the use of screens and television link equipment ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. John M. Taylor : Both court centres in Staffordshire, namely Stafford and Stoke on Trent, have screens available, and Stafford also has live television link equipment and video playback equipment for use in the presentation of evidence by child witnesses. All magistrates courts have access to screens and the use of the television link equipment at Stafford, if required.
Mr. Byers : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department on what occasions in the last 10 years he or a Minister in his Department has given a direction to civil servants to award a contract against the advice of the civil service ; what was the subject matter of the contract and its value ; and when it was awarded.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs what progress has been made recently by (a) the United Nations development programme, (b) the Food and Agriculture Organisation, (c) the World Health Organisation, (d) UNOSOM--the United Nations operation in Somalia, (e) the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and (f) UNICEF in developing reconstruction and other services in north west Somalia.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Details of the activities of UNDP, FAO, WHO and the role of UNOSOM in north-west Somalia have been provided in answers to the hon. Member on 24 February at columns 398-99, 28 February at column 546, 1 March at column 631, 15 April at columns 303 and 329 and 14 June at columns 393-94.
UNICEF activities in the region include : health--mother and child health programmes, immunisation, treatment and prevention of cholera, support for hospitals and health centres ; education--construction of one Koranic school in Hargeisa, with 10 additional schools targeted for rehabiliation, training programme for koranic school teachers ; and water and sanitation-- emergency trucking of water, rehabilitation of shallow wells and hand pump installation.
UNHCR has confirmed the completion of 148 quick impact projects--QUIPS--to assist the resident population and returning refugees. A further 216 projects continue
Column 329including those in the water, health, education, agriculture, livestock and income generation sectors. UNHCR has also made available US$2.6 million for demining activities and is involved in discussions with regional authorities on the repatriation of Somali refugees from Ethiopia and Djibouti.
The United Nations development office is planning a multi-donor mission to Woquooly Galbeed region to take forward discussions with regional authorities on the priorities and conditions necessary for developing reconstruction activities and services to that region.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list each know-how fund project by country and date ; and how much has been (a) committed and (b) spent on each project.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Staffordshire (Mr. Fabricant) on 28 June at column 471. Such lists are placed in the Libraries of both Houses at regular intervals.
Know-how fund expenditure in recipient countries to March 1933--detailed figures for 1993-4 are not yet available--is as follows :
|£ -------------------------------------------------------- Albania |39,000 Azerbaijan |81,000 Belarus |26,000 Bulgaria |2,810,000 Former Czechoslovakia |14,599,000 Georgia |26,000 Former German Democratic Republic |502,000 Hungary |13,023,000 Latvia |350,000 Lithuania |486,000 Poland |32,722,000 Romania |3,823,000 Russian Federation |14,475,000 Slovenia |45,000 Ukraine |3,193,000 Regional projects<1> |4,969,000 <1> For 1992-93 includes Environment projects.
Mr. Ottaway : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further assistance Her Majesty's Government are providing to the new Palestinian administration in Gaza and Jericho.
Mr. Hurd : In response to the urgent needs of the Palestinian authority, Her Majesty's Government have decided to provide an extra £5 million of bilateral assistance this year. A total of £3 million will be for immediate running costs, and £2 million for increased technical cooperation. Part of these funds will be for the Palestinian police. This will help meet the urgent requirements in the key area of maintaining law and order.
The success of the new Palestinian administration in Gaza and Jericho is critical for the future of the peace process. Provision of start-up costs is an immediate need.
Her Majesty's Government have previously announced their intention to contribute £70 million of assistance to the Palestinians and the peace process during 1994-95 and
Column 3301996-97, through bilateral and multilateral channels. Many programmes are already underway. Their focus is support for the structures of Palestinian administration : the police, for whom we are already providing training and equipment ; the Palestinian Monetary Authority ; legal structures and the judiciary ; water management and health care. We are also providing assistance for the planned Palestinian elections.
Mr. Alan Howarth : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what role will be played by his Department in the forthcoming consultation on disability ; and what plans he has to publish a consultation paper on countering unfair discrimination against disabled people in electoral matters.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : My right hon. Friend, the Minister for Disabled People, will be co-ordinating action on this front and will involve other Departments as necessary. We have no plans to produce a separate consultation paper.
Mr. Robathan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions bicycles have been found to contain illegal explosive devices for the use of terrorists, on the mainland of Great Britain.
Mr. Howard : The available records indicate that there have been two explosions in Great Britain involving bicycle bombs : in 1939 an IRA bicycle bomb exploded in Coventry killing five people and in 1979 a bomb exploded in a mailbag on a postman's bicycle in Streatley, Berkshire. Since then there have been three occasions when Irish Republican terrorists are believed to have been responsible for bicycle bomb attacks elsewhere, twice in Northern Ireland and once at a British military installation in Germany.
Mr. Keen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current position of his Department over the award of the contracts for the processing of historical criminal records to (a) overseas based and (b) United Kingdom based processing companies ; and whether members of the project team have visited processing facilities in the Philippines with regard to this contract.
Mr. Howard : After careful consideration of the competing bids, which included a visit by members of the project team to the Philippines, it has been decided to award the contract to PCL Group, which submitted the bid
Column 331which was judged to represent the best overall value for money to the taxpayer. The work will be carried out, under conditions of the strictest security, in Rickmansworth and Glasgow. The contract provides for the conversion of some 3 million records over 18 months, creating a database which will be of immense value to the police service in the investigation of crime.
Mr. Keen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what important factors his Department uses when determining the award of contracts involving computerisation of (a) criminal records and (b) general processing information of a sensitive nature.
Mr. Howard : The criteria for evaluation will vary according to the nature of the work to be done ; the details are given in the announcement in the Official Journal of the European Communities which launches every substantial procurement. In the case of the current project to computerise the national collection of criminal records, the award criteria, other than price, were stated as "Proven ability to process the required throughput volumes, achieving the required quality and security levels, in the required timescale" (Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Communities, 25 November and 4 December 1993).
Mr. Byers : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make representations to the Government of Jersey concerning their refusal to allow United Kingdom citizens to gain residential and home ownership rights on the island.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : No. Jersey is an internally self-governing dependency of the Crown, and by constitutional convention my right hon. and learned Friend does not seek to intervene in matters such as the island's housing regulations.
Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 7 July 1994] : We regularly remind local authorities about their obligation to choose, wherever practicable, buildings which provide access for the disabled. Advice on helping disabled electors provided by the Spastics Society was circulated to returning officers in April 1993. The guidance included a checklist for carrying out accessibility audits at polling stations. A further reminder about the needs of disabled voters was included in our guidance for acting returning officers at the European parliamentary elections earlier this year. My officials met representatives of the Spastics Society and the Royal National Institute for the Blind as part of the post-election review and their concerns have been reflected by the working groups which reported their findings in March. My officials have recently met representatives of the local authority associations to discuss the findings and will report to me in due course on the outcome of the post-election review.
(2) how many unfair dismissal claims have resulted in reinstatement in each of the last five years.
Miss Widdecombe : Only about one third of all unfair dismissal claims are heard by an industrial tribunal. The majority are settled or withdrawn, often as a result of conciliation by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. The number of unfair dismissal claims where reinstatement or re-engagement have been ordered by an industrial tribunal and their proportion of all unfair dismissal claims is shown in the following table :
1 April to |Number |Per cent. 31 March -------------------------------------------- 1989-90 |59 |0.33 1990-91 |63 |0.32 1991-92 |71 |0.28 1992-93 |73 |0.22 1993-94 |72 |0.17
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to make it clear on the face of the application form for an industrial tribunal hearing that consent to having the case heard by a chairman sitting alone in chambers, once given, cannot be withdrawn.
Miss Widdecombe : Industrial tribunals are independent judicial bodies and such matters are for the presidents of the tribunals to consider. However, I understand that the tribunals' new explanatory booklet on procedures, which the guidance note on the application form asks applicants to read, will make it clear that once such written consent is given by the parties it cannot be withdrawn, although the chairman may exercise his discretion to sit with lay members.
J |1988-89|1989-90|1990-91|1991-92|1992-93 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Number of fatalities Explosion/fire |6 |15 |11 |8 |3<1> Carbon monoxide poisoning |41 |34 |30 |33 |39<1> Number of injuries Explosion/fire |42 |67 |48 |63 |33<1> Carbon monoxide poisoning |94 |88 |131 |184 |170<1> <1> Provisional.
The statistics, as gathered, do not differentiate between fires and explosions. Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by the products of combustion escaping from an appliance into living accommodation. The gas supplied through the mains is not poisonous.
Lady Olga Maitland : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what are the reasons for the increase in the cost of building the new British library ; and what steps are being taken to control the budget.
Mr. Brooke : A former Minister for the Arts, Mr. Luce, announced to the House on 5 June 1990, that the total cost of the project would be about £450 million. This cash budget has not changed, although it is likely to be exceeded temporarily while we deal with the commercial issues arising from the technical problems encountered recently. I remain determined to bring the overall project costs back to the cash budget set in 1990.
An independent consultant carries out cost risk analyses for the Department of National Heritage at regular intervals to ascertain confidence levels that the project will keep within the overall budget and we take action, as necessary, if these raise any concerns. As a result of one such analysis during 1993, we reduced the cost of the two phases of the project, in full consideration with the British library.
Monthly financial reports are produced for the department showing, for each element of the work, the amount spent and committed against budget. Quantity surveyors value the cost of the work as it proceeds and the management contractor and independent superintending officer each certify what has been done before we authorise payment. We also exercise strict control over contractual changes which have to be carefully examined and costed before we approve them, where justified.
Mr. Pendry : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what representations he has received from the Pools Promoters Association on amendments to codes of practice of the Independent Television Commission and the Independent Radio Authority regarding pools advertising.
Mr. Pendry : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage (1) what estimate he has made on the effect of the national lottery's turnover if the football pools were given equal access to advertising on television and radio ;
(2) what estimate he has made of the effect on pools turnover if a national lottery is permitted to advertise on television and radio and pools are not.
Mr. Milburn : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what level of regional financial assistance was made available to each of the standard United Kingdom regions in each year since 1978-79 (a) at current prices and (b) at 1978-79 prices.
Mr. Sainsbury : I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave him on 5 June 1992, Official Report, columns 676-78 for information on regional financial assistance since 1978-79. The latest information is regularly published in "Regional Trends". The GDP deflators to convert the expenditure to the 1978-79 prices are published in the public expenditure statistical supplement to the "Financial Statement and Budget Report".
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps he has taken to publicise and distribute copies of his first annual energy report ; what has been the cost of publication of the report ; and if he will make a statement on the degree and type of response he has received on the report to date.
Mr. Eggar : I launched volume 1 of the first annual energy report at a press conference on 15 June and mentioned it subsequently at the press conference for the International Energy Agency review of United Kingdom energy policy on 30 June. About 250 copies of the report have been sent out to relevant parts of the media. Volume 2--the Brown Book--had been launched, as usual by the end of April, to coincide with the offshore technology conference in Houston. Further publicity for the report will be provided when the "Digest of Energy Statistics" is published later this month. HMSO, as publisher and vendor of the report, has also carried out its own publicity initiatives. Over 1,500 copies of volume 2 have been sold to date. The direct cost of publishing the report was borne by HMSO. The cost of designing the new formats for the two volumes and of typesetting and proofing was about £40,000. The cost to the Department of official time
Column 335immediately involved in preparing both volumes of the report was about £120,000. In addition, officials in DTI and other Departments contributed to and commented on the report. This cost is estimated to be of the order of £10,000. The members of the energy advisory panel gave their time free of charge.
I have had a favourable reaction to the report from the energy advisory panel. Further reaction is invited within the report itself.
Mr. Thurnham : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the effectiveness with which the Radiocommunications Agency is carrying out its functions in relation to interference problems in Tonge Park avenue, Bolton.
Mr. McLoughlin : Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Radiocommunications Agency under its chief executive Jim Norton. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from Jim Norton to Mr. Peter Thurnham, dated 8 July 1994 :
The President of the Board of Trade has asked me to reply to your Question about the Agency's handling of an interference problem in Tonge Park Avenue, Bolton.
The last investigation carried out by the Radiocommunications Agency in Tonge Park Avenue was in 1992, at which time residents reported an amateur radio installation as the source of interference to television and radio reception. Agency staff inspected the amateur station and in September 1992, following extensive tests, the amateur agreed to voluntarily restrict his power output. Apparently this cured the problem as no further complaints were received. However, you wrote to me on 28 June 1994 on behalf of your constituents Mr. and Mrs. Lever of 41 Tonge Park Avenue to say that the interference has re-occurred. I am sorry to learn of this. I have asked my local staff to carry out an up to date inspection of the amateur station and I will write again as soon as possible.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : Against the background of a declining number of compulsory insolvencies and a significant increase in the resources for 1994-95, I have set the Insolvency Service the target of reducing the number of its open cases to a level equivalent to approximately 12 months inpout. This will involve the service in closing 53,000 cases. I also expect the service to increase the number of proceedings taken for the disqualification of directors of failed companies where there is evidence of misconduct and, similarly, to increase the effectiveness of its investigative effort. To that end official receivers will be placing greater emphasis on
disqualification and prosecution work. This will be aided by an increased use of private sector professionals and by the strengthening of the specialist's resources of the disqualification unit.
In addition, I have set the service the following quality of service targets for 1994-95 :
to report to creditors on assets and liabilities within 8 weeks in at least 80 per cent. of all cases ; and within 12 weeks in 98 per cent. of all cases ;
to hold the initial meeting of creditors within 12 weeks in at least 80 per cent. of all cases ; and within 16 weeks in 98 per cent. of all cases ;
Column 336to submit reports within 10 months in at least 80 per cent. of cases where there is evidence of criminality ;
to submit disqualification reports within 15 months in at least 80 per cent. of cases where there is evidence of unfit conduct by directors ;
to check and action at least 95 per cent. of payment requisitions within five days or by the due date.
These targets are based on an assumption of 35,000 new cases and a requirement to operate within its agreed expenditure budget of £57.5 million for 1994-95.
In addition, I expect the chief executive of the service to continue to reply within 10 working days to all letters from Members of Parliament delegated to him for reply.