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Mr. Atkins : I have considered the advantages and disadvantages of using council tax bands as a method of charging for water. I remain to be convinced that a method of charging which is not based on the amount of water used will necessarily be fairer than one based on rateable values. If, however, the industry can provide analysis that supports the view that council tax valuation bands provide a fair and reasonable basis for water charging, I would be prepared to consider that evidence.
Mr. Llwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many representations he has received during the local goverment review on the responsibilities of the future unitary authorities for transport and highways, including planning ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry : We have received over 10,000 letters about the review of local government in England since July 1992. Many refer to specific local authority functions. As we receive the Local Government Commission's final reports for individual review areas we are looking closely at its recommendations to ensure that they enable adequate provision to be made for all local government functions, including transport and transport planning. All representations will be considered before final decisions are made.
Mr. Robert Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many outstanding appeals there are against valuations for business rates administered by the valuation officer in the Harrogate area ; and what is the average amount of time before appeals are settled for business rates.
Mr. Curry : As at 30 June there were 1,454 non-domestic rating appeals outstanding in the Harrogate district council area. The length of time taken to settle each appeal depends on the relative complexity of individual cases.
Column 767his Department on housing-related subsidies and grants (a) including all expenditures related to housing benefit and (b) excluding all expenditures related to housing benefit ; if, following the Treasury's summer economic forecast 1994, he will publish projections for each of the years from 1994-95 to 1996-97 ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir George Young : Information on housing subsidies and grants for the years requested has been published in the housing chapters of the DOE reports for 1992, 1993 and 1994. Figures in the later reports supersede those for earlier years.
No revisions have been made to the estimates as a result of the publication of the Treasury's summer economic forecast. Revised estimates will be made in due course as part of the current public expenditure survey.
Mr. Atkins : The Government fund a network of air quality monitoring stations which measure levels of motor vehicle pollutants. This includes 48 continuous automatic sites, two of which are operated in collaboration with local authorities, of which : 30 monitor ozone,
25 monitor nitrogen dioxide,
19 monitor carbon monoxide,
12 monitor fine particles (PM )
and 8 monitor hydrocarbons including benzene, 1,3 butadiene and ozone precursors.
Nitrogen dioxide is also monitored at over 1,200 sites in the United Kingdom in collaboration with local authorities using non-automatic techniques.
Mr. Atkins : In September 1992, the Government published a consultation document on the future of the New Forest. The document proposed to give the wider New Forest area--the so-called New Forest heritage area--a statutory designation and to apply to it a planning regime similar to that which applies in the national parks. It also proposed to establish a statutory body, based on the existing New Forest committee, to co-ordinate the management of this wider area. The consultation produced a very substantial response. Some 220 people and organisations gave their views to the Department, and I am today arranging for those responses
Column 768and a summary of them to be made available in my Department's Library. I have continued to receive extensive representations about these matters, totalling to the present some 1,000 further letters. The core of the forest is already well protected against inappropriate development through the New Forest Acts and the existence of that land owned by the Crown and administered by the Forestry Commission. The Government have recently reinforced this protection through the designation of the core forest area as a special protection area under the EC birds directive.
However, the New Forest lies between two of the most rapidly developing areas in the south of England. The Government therefore recognised the need to protect a wider area, where the development pressures are greatest, but which is essential if the traditional management of the forest is to be maintained.
These aspects of the Government's proposals received overwhelming support. We therefore intend to apply to the wider New Forest area, the same planning policies as would apply if that area were a national park. These policies are set out in my Department's planning policy guidance note 7 and elsewhere and I am today asking the relevant local planning authorities to ensure that in their development plans and planning decisions they apply those policies. I also intend to take early steps to amend the General Development Order to extend the scope of development control as applies in national parks to that wider area. The new planning regime will apply to the definition of the New Forest heritage area as it emerges from the current process of preparing and adopting local plans. A number of representations have been made to include the Avon valley in the heritage area. I have therefore also today written to New Forest district council asking it to look closely at the merits of this and consider whether there is a case for incorporating the area concerned.
These measures will deliver the necessary planning protections to the wider area. They have also the advantage of being able to be implemented immediately without recourse to primary legislation for which there is little prospect of parliamentary time in the near future.
The consultation revealed far less agreement about the future of the New Forest Committee. Whilst there was acknowledgement of the need for co- ordinated management over the wider area, some considered that to turn the committee into a statutory body would merely add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to the administration of the forest. Some also feared that the committee would find itself in conflict with those already charged with the management of the forest and that it might ultimately seek to usurp their roles. However, the Government have always emphasised that its proposals did not envisage a new body taking over the existing powers and responsibilities of the local authorities, the Forestry Commission, the verderers or other agencies operating in the forest.
The New Forest committee emerged in 1990 following the New Forest review. The Government feel that, in the light of the reservations expressed about its role, it would be unwise to give it statutory status. They therefore do not intend to proceed with these aspects of their original proposals.
The New Forest is a unique area. Not only is it a valued part of our national heritage and an internationally important range of habitats but its character is the result of nine hundred years of distinctive management. The
Column 769Government are firmly committed to the conservation of these habitats and that traditional character. I believe the steps we have taken today will greatly contribute to these objectives.
Later this month we intend to publish a leaflet prepared by the working group giving advice to estate managers, park authorities and landowners on legal techniques for controlling Canada geese. The techniques include a variety of non-lethal methods such as scaring, habitat management, adjustment of cropping patterns, alteration of feeding areas and fencing.
The group will continue to develop a long-term management strategy.
Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 5 July, Official Report, column 131, what information he has on exactly which method or methods have been used to kill Canada geese in London parks this year.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what research will be undertaken to discover the proportion of the population which (a) was aware of his Department's smog alerts, (b) took action to avoid possible health effects and (c) took voluntary action based on his Department's advice to minimise air pollution during the pollution episode which started on 2 July.
Mr. Atkins : My Department issued a press notice on the afternoon of Friday 1 July, warning that poor air quality was forecast. The notice was distributed to 275 media outlets and individual reporters, and resulted in over 30 press articles from 2 to 6 July. The number of phone calls to the air quality bulletin freephone line increased substantially. I drew attention to the Government's advice in the course of radio and television interviews over this period. My Department regularly commissions, and acts upon, research on the public's response to air quality bulletins, and has already commissioned a survey on public awareness and actions during the recent episode.
Mr. Eastham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many air pollution measuring stations are in the Manchester area ; where the stations are located ; how the public are notified of the readings ; and what measures are taken when dangerous limits are recorded.
Column 770with the co-operation of local authorities, at 41 sites using non-automatic techniques. Details of site locations and pollutants measured are in the tables.
Information from all the Department's national automatic monitoring sites, including the site in Manchester, are used to provide air quality bulletins to the public, giving daily information on air pollution via a Freephone helpline, Ceefax and Teletext and a variety of other news media. The bulletin includes information on levels of pollutants together with a forecast and health advice on what to do should levels become high. In addition, information from the Department's non-automatic monitoring sites is published periodically.
1. Automatic Site Pollutants Monitored |Site Location |Grid Reference ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Oxides of Nitrogen, |St. Peters Square, Carbon Monoxide | Manchester |SJ 838 980
2. Non-Automatic Sites Pollutants Monitored |Site Location |Grid |Reference ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Smoke/SO2 |Bolton 24 |3715 4092 |Farnworth 8 |3739 4061 |Horwich 1 |3637 4118 |Bury 9 |3819 4116 |Manchester 11 |3838 3981 |Manchester 15 |3875 3985 |Manchester 21 |3847 4023 |Oldham 13 |3920 4057 |Middleton 3 |3871 4063 |Cheadle and Gatley 6 |3859 3886 |Ashford-Under-Lyne 8 |3939 3992 |Trafford 1 |3810 3958 |Ashford-in-Makerfield 1|3576 3991 |Leigh 4 |3662 3999 |Wigan 8 |3592 4056 2. NO2 (National Diffusion |Manchester IN Tube Survey, 4 sites in each | 2N |3875 3985 Local Authority Area) | 3N |3867 3926 | 4N |3879 3995 |Oldham IN |3051 4933 | 2N |3051 4937 | 3N |3012 4889 | 4N |3054 4926 |Rochdale IN |3920 4157 | 2N |3920 4157 | 3N |3899 4122 | 4N |3888 4135 |Stockport 14N |3922 3869 | 15N |3920 3871 | 16N |3928 3857 | 17N |3928 3873 |Trafford 1N |3810 3989 | 2N |3745 3945 | 4N |3749 3879 | 5N |3768 3909 |Wigan 1N |3651 4004 | 2N |3662 3999 | 4N |3658 4017 | 5N |3656 4002 3. Toxic Organic |Law Courts, Manchester |3834 3982 Micropollutants 4. Lead |Manchester |3817 3876
Mr. Milburn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many permanent jobs have been created in each development area in each year since 1981 net of (A) losses and (b) relocations from the adjoining localities.
Mr. Baldry [holding answer 11 July 1994] : Reliable data on net employment in urban development areas are not available. Gross jobs created by each urban development corporation up to 31 March 1994 are as follows :
|Number -------------------------------------- Birmingham Heartlands |611 Black Country |11,397 Bristol |2,250 Central Manchester |4,677 Leeds |8,218 London Docklands |71,889 Merseyside |10,605 Plymouth |0 Sheffield |10,096 Teesside |11,469 Trafford Park |14,813 Tyne and Wear |16,242 |------- Total |162,267
Mr. Ancram : The latest available figures show that the number of successful benefit claims in Northern Ireland is 1,094,426. This figure will not equate to the number of individuals receiving benefit because there are claimants who receive more than one benefit.
18. Mr. Robathan : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to what extent the Anglo-Irish and the Downing street declaration have had a material impact on cross-border security co-operation and operations against terrorism in the Province.
Sir John Wheeler : The greatly enhanced co-operation in opposing terrorism, which is so apparent since 1985, in large part derives from the closer relations resulting from the agreement and the declaration.
Sir Patrick Mayhew : The British and Irish Governments have been discussing the possibility of producing a joint framework document to aid the main constitutional parties in Northern Ireland in reaching a comprehensive political settlement. "Strand Two" matters have been among those discussed.
Sir Patrick Mayhew : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier today to my hon. Friends the Members for Castle Point (Dr. Spink) and for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) and to the hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain).
25. Mr. Wicks : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many families with children, and what proportion of all such families, live in households headed by one parent ; and what percentage of those receive income support.
Mr. Ancram : The 1991 census of population enumerated 38,060 households with dependent children headed by one parent in Northern Ireland. This represents 17.6 per cent. of all households with dependent children. The figure for the percentage of families headed by one parent in receipt of income support is not available but as at May 1992 regardless of status as head of a household or not, there were 35,380 one parent families in receipt of income support.
Mr. Tim Smith : I am grateful for my hon. Friend's continued interest in these matters. I receive representations from many quarters and I am pleased to record that the Industrial Development Board has just completed its best-ever year of inward investment.
Mr. Tim Smith : Comprehensive information on investment in production industries for United Kingdom regions is available only from the annual census of production. The most recent figures from ACOP relate to 1991 and show that net capital expenditure by manufacturers in Northern Ireland amounted to £333.8 million. Corresponding figures for 1990 and 1989 were £330.7 million and £300.8 million respectively.
Sir John Wheeler : Parades marking the anniversary of the battle of the Boyne were held at 19 major venues throughout Northern Ireland on 12 July, and passed off without serious incident. Policing arrangements at parades
Column 774are an operational matter for the RUC who, in fulfilling their responsibility to maintain public order and safety, consulted widely beforehand with both parade organisers and local communities.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Attorney-General what consultations he has had with the Crown Prosecution Service, Wales region, in relation to the decision not to proceed with charges against Dr. John Catford with respect to the allegations of expenses irregularities while chief executive of the Health Promotion Authority for Wales.
The Attorney-General : The decision to which the hon. Member refers was taken by the Crown Prosecution Service. The only involvement of my office in the case was to procure briefing for the purposes of replying to previous questions by the hon. Member.
The Attorney-General : The Crown Prosecution Service continues to train lawyers as youth offender specialists with responsibility for reviewing files involving alleged offences committed by juveniles. The revised "Code for Crown Prosecutors" sets out the balance to be struck between the interests of young offenders and those of the community. Time limits in cases involving juveniles have been agreed with the police and courts to achieve swifter justice.