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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 15 July 1994


Royal Courts of Justice

Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how much has been spent on the new extension to the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand ; how much has been spent on facilities for (a) members of the public, (b) plaintiffs' prosecution witnesses, (c) defendants and defence witnesses, (d) solicitors and barristers, (e) judges and (f) administrative staff.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The works cost of this scheme amounted to £15.4 million including VAT. No elemental cost breakdown of the areas to which the hon. Gentleman refers can be produced without incurring disproportionate cost.

Civil Enforcement Agencies

Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he expects to announce the findings of his Department's 1992 review of the organisation and management of civil enforcement agencies.

Mr. John M. Taylor : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Dr. Jones) on 23 June, Official Report, column 247. The consultation exercise raised a wide range of difficult issues. The Lord Chancellor is continuing to give consideration to these, and is not in a position to say when an announcement will be made.

Small Claims Procedure

Mr. Brazier : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to introduce paper arbitrations into the small claims procedure.

Mr. John M. Taylor : There are no plans at present to introduce paper arbitrations into the small claims procedure.

Mr. Brazier : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has in this Parliament to raise the small claim court limit from its current level of £1,000.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The Lord Chancellor will review the monetary limit for automatic reference into the county court arbitration procedure later in the year. No new figure has yet been decided and no date for implementation has yet been set.

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National Vocational Qualifications

Mr. Austin-Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the consultants used by his Department on standard development work associated with NVQs in each of the years 1991-92, 1992-93 and 1993- 94, together with the specific subject areas on which they worked, the cost of each contract and whether these contracts were publicly advertised and tendered.

Miss Widdecombe : The information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Travel-to-Interview Scheme

Mr. Andrew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to extend the eligibility for the

travel-to-interview scheme ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Employment Service agency under its chief executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from A. G. Johnson to Mr. Andrew Smith, dated 15 July 1994 :

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your Parliamentary Question about extending the eligibility for the Travel to Interview Scheme (TIS). I am replying in the Chief Executive's absence. We are presently considering a package of changes to improve the working of the Scheme within available resources. In doing so we are re-examining many of the rules which cause people most concern. These include rules about the salary level cut-off point, the duration of the job applied for and help where a second or third interview is necessary for the same job. In making such changes we have first to be sure that the Scheme remains an incentive for unemployed people to widen their job search and that it does not subsidise activity which would, in any case, take place.

If it is possible to redevelop the scheme in the way we wish, we would hope to be able to introduce the changes this year. I hope this is helpful.


Special Education, Manchester

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Education when his Department received the city of Manchester's proposals for reorganising special education in the city ; when he will be responding ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Forth : Manchester city council notified the Department on 20 July 1993 of its intention to reorganise special education in the city. Formal proposals were submitted to the Department on 1 October.

The council was notified on 31 March 1994 of the Secretary of State's decision to approve the reorganisation of the Ewing special school. On 11 July, the council was informed that the Secretary of State had given qualified approval, subject to the satisfactory completion of building work, to the reorganisation and closure of other special schools in the city.

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Nursery Education

Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many nursery units and nursery schools have been granted capital funding in each of the last five years ; and what was the total amount of funds granted to nursery units and nursery schools in capital allocation in each of the last five years.

Mr. Robin Squire : Nursery education does not represent a separate category in the distribution of annual capital guidelines to local education authorities. Authorities' plans for spending on nursery classes and schools are taken into account in the formula calculation of the ACG category covering improvement and replacement work. Capital spending at all county and controlled schools is entirely the responsibility of LEAs.

For voluntary aided and special agreement schools the governors are responsible for building work and may claim grant of up to 85 per cent. on their expenditure. The table sets out the number of new nursery units approved for funding since 1989-90, together with projected allocations for total governors' expenditure :

Voluntary aided and special agreement schools   

Year        |Number of  |Governors'             

            |new units  |Expenditure            



<1>1989-90  |5          |898                    

<1>1990-91  |5          |913                    

1991-92     |13         |1,109                  

1992-93     |13         |1,089                  

1993-94     |19         |1,202                  

<2>1994-95  |10         |1,023                  

<1> Projects flowing from statutory proposals   

approved after the annual capital announcement  

were not recorded separately and may be omitted 

from the 1989-90 and 1990-91 statistics.        

<2> To date.                                    

Figures are not available for funding work within existing aided school nurseries.

The allocation of capital grants to grant-maintained schools is now the responsibility of the Funding Agency for Schools. I have asked the chairman of the Funding Agency to reply to the hon. Member.


Mr. Gordon McNally

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 7 July, Official Report, column 274, (1) on what three dates he attended functions at which Mr. Gordon McNally was present ; at what location he attended functions at which Mr. Gordon McNally was present ; and for what purpose and in what circumstances the functions were held at which both he and Mr. Gordon McNally were present ;

(2) in what official circumstances he has been photographed in a group with Mr. Gordon McNally.

The Prime Minister : The three large functions which I attended, at which Mr. McNally also attended, were on 29 September 1992, 13 November 1992 and 23 March 1993. Photographs are often taken at such events and may have been taken on each occasion.

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Data Protection

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Prime Minister whether he has sought the views of the Data Protection Registrar in relation to the possible introduction of a national identity number ; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : We have no plans to introduce a national identity number. The question of a national identity card scheme is kept under review. If we decided to introduce such a scheme there would be a full consultation exercise.

Ex-service People

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 11 July, Official Report, column 377, if it is his intention at present or at any time in the future to implenent the resolution of the House of 1 July on welfare of ex-service people.

The Prime Minister : We have no such plans at present.


Environmental Bodies

Mr. Austin-Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he intends to hold further public consultation on the future of English Nature and the Countryside Commission for England.

Mr. Atkins : The public consultation which has already taken place produced well over 300 replies, which have been taken fully into account by the study group considering the possible merger of the Countryside Commission and English Nature. There are no plans at present for a further round of consultation.

Mr. Austin-Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if the final report of the study group on the future of English Nature and the Countryside Commission for England will be published ; and if he will also publish the evidence submitted.

Mr. Atkins : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will wish to consider the issue of the report further once he has made up his mind on the results of the study. Copies of responses to the consultation will be made available in the usual way when a decision is announced.

Mr. Austin-Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if the study group on the future of English Nature and the Countryside Commission for England has completed its report ; and when he expects to make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : Yes. My right hon. Friend will make a statement when he has had an opportunity to draw his own conclusions from the study.

Mr. Austin-Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from the London Ecology Committee in relation to the study group on the future of English Nature and the Countryside Commission for England, and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : The detailed submission from the London Ecology Committee was one of well over 300 responses received to the public consultation. All the views expressed have been taken fully into account by the study group.

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Safer Cities

Mr. Devlin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he plans to make an announcement about proposals for further safer cities projects.

Sir George Young : I am pleased to announce that, as part of our undertaking to meet existing commitments to programmes now coming within the single regeneration budget, we propose to set up another 20 safer cities projects in this financial year.

The areas invited to participate in the next wave are :






Great Grimsby


Kensington and Chelsea













Each of these areas has above average rates of recorded crime and significant evidence of deprivation.

Subject to confirmation of support for a project from each of the key local agencies--local authorities, police and probation service--we shall shortly seek tenders for their management from organisations with experience in crime prevention and project management. In addition to the running costs being met by the Department of the Environment, each project will have access to grant funding of up to £100,000 a year, for three years, to support local crime prevention and community safety initiatives.

We expect the projects to be set up towards the end of 1994. Funding for these projects represents an existing commitment under the SRB, and is additional to resources set aside for initiatives starting in 1995-96, approved in accordance with the bidding guidance issued on 14 April 1994, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House.

Building Regulations

Mr. Peter Ainsworth : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what changes he proposes to make to the Building Regulations 1991 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Baldry : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is today laying before Parliament the Building (Amendment) Regulations 1994. The main purpose of these amendments is to strengthen the requirements of part L of the Building Regulations 1991 for the conservation of fuel and power ; to improve part F on ventilation ; and to simplify part A on structural stability. They also introduce a new regulation 13A to regularise unauthorised development.

In revising part L, the aim has been to reduce CO emissions from buildings by incorporating cost-effective

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measures, but to do so in a way which does not introduce unacceptable technical risks and maintains some flexibility for designers. The Building Research Establishment estimates that the changes will improve the energy performance of space and water heating in houses by some 25 per cent. to 35 per cent. compared with current building regulations standards, with similar improvements in the non-domestic.

The revisions to part F have been introduced to improve and simplify the current provisions for ventilation in dwellings and to provide builders with a wider range of options on how this can be achieved. Requirements for non-domestic buildings are included in building regulations for the first time to reflect the relevant requirements of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 so that new building work should not require subsequent adaptation.

To provide sufficient time for the industry, including builders, designers and building control bodies, to assimilate the changes, parts L and F will come into force on 1 July 1995.

The revision to part A simplifes the requirement relating to disproportionate collapse of certain public buildings without detriment to safety. The new regulation 13A has been introduced to allow local authorities to certify building work which should have been subject to control but was previously unauthorised. The local authorities will be able to charge fees for carrying out this new task--fees which will be prescribed in new regulations to be laid before Parliament shortly. The revision to part A comes into force on 1 September 1994, and the new regulation 13A on 1 October 1994. Copies of the new editions of approved documents F and L and the related cost compliance assessments have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Waste Shipments Regulation

Mr. Michael Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will issue guidance on the EC waste shipments regulation.

Mr. Atkins : The Department of the Environment has published a circular, DoE circular 13/94, giving guidance on the implementation of the EC waste shipments regulations and the associated Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 1994. The circular will assist waste regulation authorities and the waste disposal and recovery industries to follow the requirements of the new system. The final text of the circular reflects the outcome of public consultation on a draft document issued in March, and incorporates various changes to meet the concerns and interests of industry, local authorities and the public. The circular explains the provisions and administrative procedures of the waste shipments regulations and United Kingdom regulations, describes the roles and responsibilities of the various parties involved in the shipments process, and offers guidance on issues such as the options available for the provision of financial guarantees, and local authorities' administrative charges. A compliance cost assessment has been undertaken in relation to the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 1994. Copies of both circular 13/94 and the compliance cost assessment have been placed in the Library.

The new system strengthens controls over transfrontier shipments of waste in the interests of protecting human

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health and the environment. We are confident that the guidance in this circular will help both industry and regulators to get to grips with the demands of the new regime.

Pennine Bridleway

Mr. Brandreth : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will announce his decision on the proposed Pennine bridleway.

Mr. Atkins : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has today signified that he is minded to approve the Countryside Commission's report in respect of the Pennine bridleway, with modifications to the route as submitted by the Commission.

Further consultation will now take place with the local authorities through whose areas the route passes to confirm their agreement to the modification put forward.

Coastal Zone Policies

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the recent consultation exercise on coastal zone policies.

Mr. Atkins : In October 1993, the Department of the Environment and the Welsh Office published two discussion papers on coastal issues : "Managing The Coast" and "Development Below Low Water Mark". Both papers were prepared with the full co-operation of all relevant Departments. They fulfilled the commitments made by the Government in their response, Cm 2011 : July 1992, to the report from the Environment Select Committee, April 1992, on coastal zone protection and planning.

Extensive comments were received on the two papers and reflected a wide range of views. I am today arranging for those comments and a summary of them to be made available in my Department's Library. The Government recognise the heightened importance attached to effective management of the coastal zone, and to ensuring that a balance is achieved between the commercial, environmental, leisure and other demands--for example, military needs--on such areas, in accordance with the principles of sustainable development. Following full consideration, we remain confident that existing statutory systems--including the specialised sectoral controls which apply offshore--are the most effective means of regulating development in the coastal zone. Accordingly, in recognition of the distinct needs of land and marine environments, we believe that a case has not been made for any general extension below low water mark of the jurisdiction of town and country planning legislation. However, we shall keep under continuing review the scope for making appropriate improvements to present arrangements : for example, to ensure maximum transparency and liaison in the decision-making process. We shall also consider further the scope for addressing some more detailed points raised in responses to the recent consultation exercise. However, we accept that there is concern in some quarters that new means of taking an overview of the impact and development of policies towards the coast are required, and that increased emphasis should be placed on the wider management of the coastal zone on the basis of defined goals and objectives.

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We have already taken a number of initiatives to improve the planning and management of the coast : for example, publication of planning policy guidance note 20 on coastal planning ; the launch last autumn of a strategy for flood and coastal defence in England and Wales, recent proposals for a revised regime for the dredging of marine aggregates, and more broadly, the continuing role of the interdepartmental group on coastal policy, which provides a vehicle for effective liaison on coastal zone matters within central Government.

We have also laid before Parliament regulations to implement the provisions of the EC habitats directive, which include a new approach to the conservation of certain internationally important marine areas, and have supported the work of the nature conservation agencies in promoting the drawing up of management plans in a number of important estuaries.

We now propose to take further measures to enhance the effective co- ordination of policies for the coastal zone in England. Responding to the call for clear and comprehensive objectives, we intend to publish within a year a statement of national policy guidelines for the coast. This will draw together in a convenient form policy guidance already provided on coastal issues. In turn, public and private bodies, agencies and organisations will be asked to have due regard to the principles set out in the proposed guidelines, when giving consideration to actions which may impinge directly, or indirectly, on the coastal zone.

Secondly, reflecting the priority which we attach to informed discussion on coastal issues, we intend to create by the end of this year a standing forum on coastal zone management. It will have a broad and balanced membership, including central and local government, and commercial, conservation and recreation interests. We will consult on its membership and terms of reference. Such a forum should be an effective vehicle for promoting understanding of the national guidelines and building on liaison arrangements at regional and local level already established. It will complement, but not overlap with, existing ministerial meetings dealing with specific issues such as flood and coastal defence.

Thirdly, in recognition of the growing role and coverage of coastal zone management plans, we believe there is a strong case for highlighting good practice and clarifying, where necessary, the interaction of the different elements of such management. The proposed forum will have an important role here in ensuring effective co-operation between the responsible bodies. We shall therefore set this work in hand, and, in addition, consider how best to monitor the management plans being developed locally.

Lastly, we shall proceed with the proposed review of byelaw powers relating to coastal management, and broaden its scope to look more widely at the general issue of implementing coastal zone management and the relationship between the voluntary principle and regulatory support. We shall therefore establish an interdepartmental working party to consider these matters, and in undertaking its task the group will consult widely with interested parties.

Colleagues in the Scottish Office are currently preparing a discussion paper on coastal policy which will reflect Scotland's distinctive circumstances. It is expected that this paper will be published in the autumn. Colleagues in Northern Ireland also hope to issue a consultation paper on coastal policy to interested parties later in the year, taking

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into account the different local government framework which exists. The Secretary of State for Wales will consider the position in Wales.

Linked with existing initiatives and measures, we believe that these proposals offer a sound basis for achieving increased responsiveness to the specific needs of the coastal zone, and will make a major contribution to helping reconcile conflicting pressures on this vital and potentially vulnerable resource.

Procurement and Contractural Arrangements

Mr. Sims : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has received a copy of Sir Michael Latham's final report of the joint Government-industry review of procurement and contractual arrangements in the United Kingdom construction industry.

Mr. Baldry : Sir Michael Latham has now presented his final report, which was due this month, and I have received a copy. Sir Michael will publish his report on Monday 18 July and copies of the report will be placed in the Library.

Sir Michael's report contains recommendations to Government, the construction industry and its clients about

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practical reforms to reduce conflict and litigation, and to improve productivity and competitiveness. The Government are now considering the report and the recommendations contained in it.

A conference, organised by the industry groups involved in the review, is being held on 25 July. It will provide a platform for Government, the construction industry and its clients to give an initial response to the report's recommendations.

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