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Mr. Baldry : None. National policy is set out in planning policy guidance note 2, "Green Belts". Paragraph 16 of that document states that the re-use of redundant buildings in green belts should not be refused unless there are specific and convincing reasons which cannot be overcome by attaching conditions to the planning permission. Paragraph 12 of PPG2 states that the general policies controlling development in the countryside apply with equal force in green belts. Thus conversion of redundant buildings in the green belt will be subject to the safeguards on re-use set out in paragraph 2.15 and annexe D of planning policy guidance note 7, "The Countryside and the Rural Economy".
Our consultation draft revision of PPG2, issued earlier this year, proposes removing the redundancy limitation from the PPG2 advice and we are currently analysing the more than 600 responses received to that document.
Mr. Baldry : Information on construction material price indices is published in the Department's "Monthly Statistics of Building Materials And Components", a copy of which is placed in the Library of the House. The "all work" index in table 1 indicates a rise of some 4 per cent. between May 1993 and May 1994.
Mr. Atkins : The London energy study carried out by the London Research Centre was published on 15 September 1993. It was funded by the European Commission, London Electricity plc and the Department of the Environment. One of the principal outputs of the study was a very detailed inventory of energy use, and the resultant emissions of pollutants to the London atmosphere covering almost 2,000 sq km in and around London. The table illustrates the contribution from road transport for each pollutant in 1991.
London road transport 1991 |Percentage |of total |emissions ------------------------------------------------- Carbon dioxide (as carbon) |33 Sulphur dioxide |22 Black smoke |96 Carbon monoxide |99 Nitrogen oxides |76 Volatile organic compounds |97
Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the number of (a) zoological gardens, (b) wildlife parks, (c) circuses, (d) aquaria, (e) vivaria and (f) insectaria subject to the full requirements of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 ; and how many of each category have been granted dispensations from the requirements of the Act in each of the last five years.
Mr. Atkins : According to our latest information, 226 zoos are currently licensed in England under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981. During the last five years, the total number of dispensations granted under section 14(2) of the Act have been :
|Number --------------------- 1990 |12 1991 |13 1992 |6 1993 |7 1994 |3
These figures include dispensations given for aquaria, vivaria and insectaria although they do not differentiate
Column 42between collections according to species. Dispensations granted under the Act do not in any way weaken a zoo's requirement to meet the standards of modern zoo practice of animal welfare and public safety set out by the Secretary of State. The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 does not apply to circuses.
Sir Trevor Skeet : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he proposes to consider and adjudicate on an urgent application for a listed building consent covering premises 29 to 41 High Street, Bedford.
Mr. Curry : We have consulted English Heritage on the proposals. As soon as we have that organisation's advice we will consider whether the application should be called in for my right hon. Friend to determine.
Mr. Atkins : As my right hon. Friend the Lord President said last week, there is now no prospect of passing the environment agencies paving Bill before the summer recess. However, the Government remain committed to introducing legislation to establish the agencies as soon as parliamentary time allows and, as the Lord President also said, good progress is being made on a main Bill.
Mr. Knapman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with the Local Government Commission on its estimates of the financial implications of the options for reorganisation of local government in Somerset, North Yorkshire and North Humberside ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry : I have asked the Local Government Commission to provide the Department with a further analysis of its estimates of the costs and savings that might be expected from the options for reorganisation contained in its reports for Somerset and for North Yorkshire and North Humberside.
In the case of Somerset, we have asked the Commission how the costs and savings of the three unitary options recommended in its report might vary under alternative three unitary options that did not involve splitting Mendip.
In the case of North Yorkshire and North Humberside, the Commission's report gave estimates of costs and savings for a range of options for the whole review area north of the Humber. The Department has asked the Commission to give a breakdown of costs and savings between the North Yorkshire area, and the North
Column 43Humberside area for three of the options in its report : those for eight unitary authorities, four unitary authorities, and modified two-tier.
The estimates of potential costs and savings are important considerations that will inform our decisions. In both these cases we feel that further information on how costs and savings might vary between alternative options will help all concerned to assess which option is likely to be most cost- effective. The additional information will be sent to the authorities concerned and placed in the Library of the House at the same time as it is sent to the Department. The Commission hopes that this will be within the next three to four weeks.
Mr. Straw : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate he makes and what studies have been undertaken or are available to him of the transitional costs including redundancy and serverance payments of the local government review, England, where (a) all employees are transferred to new unitary authorities, (b) 95 per cent. are transferred and (c) 90 per cent. are transferred.
Mr. Gummer [holding answer 14 July 1994] : We have not attempted to estimate costs in this way. However, each report of the Local Government Commission gives the estimated range of total transitional costs for the proposed structural options, which includes staff redundancy and retirement costs, in line with the Ernst and Young financial methodology.
Mr. Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make it his policy to introduce legislation to equalise water charges at the lower level in areas where different water authorities overlap and one authority is obliged to act as a collecting agent on another's behalf.
Mr. Atkins [holding answer 14 July 1994] : Each company incurs costs in providing water and sewerage services relative to its topographic and demographic situation, and its particular investment needs. It follows that customers' water and sewerage charges should reflect the costs incurred by the company which provides the particular service.
Mr. Atkins [holding answer 14 July 1994] : Information from the Department of the Environment's national automatic monitoring sites is used to provide air quality bulletins to the public, giving daily information on air pollution in both urban and rural areas across the United Kingdom via a freephone helpline, Ceefax, Teletext and a variety of other news media. The bulletin includes information on levels of pollutants which are described as "very good", "good", "poor" or "very poor" together with a forecast and health advice on what to do should levels become high. The Ceefax and Teletext bulletin services have recently been upgraded and now provide hourly updates on nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide and benzene.
Column 44In addition, information from the Department's non-automatic and automatic monitoring sites is published regularly.
Mr. Atkins [holding answer 15 July 1994] : The United Kingdom's climate change programme is based on projections from energy paper 59. These show that in 2005 the underlying trend in emissions may be between about 6 and about 40 million tonnes of carbon--MtC--above the level in 1990. In January, the Government announced a programme of measures designed to fulfil its commitment, under the United Nations framework convention on climate change, of aiming to return greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2000. No targets have been set under the convention for emissions levels beyond 2000 and therefore no programme of measures is in place beyond that date. However, provisional estimates made by my Department indicate that the continuing effect of measures already in place could reduce emissions in 2005 by at least 10 MtC.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the Northern Ireland Airports Authority has been advised of the designated dates to fly the Union flag ; why the Union flag was not flown on 12 July at Aldergrove airport ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Tim Smith : The requirement to fly the Union flag on those prescribed days relevant to Northern Ireland applies to central Government offices only. There is no requirement, therefore, for Northern Ireland Airports Ltd to comply.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what proposals there are to change the role of the Belfast action team ; what changes there will be in the funding of the Belfast action team ; and if he will make a statement on the future roles of the Belfast action team in the council areas of Belfast and Castlereagh.
Mr. Tim Smith : There are no proposals to change the role of the Belfast action teams. Funding for the teams was provided for in the 1993 Public Expenditure Survey which covers the years 1994-95, 1995-96 and 1996- 97.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the budgeted contribution of public funds to the proposed Foyle shopping centre in the city of Londonderry ; from which sources these public funds are being made available ; and what is the estimated total cost of the Foyle centre.
Column 45development grant of up to £7.5 million and the transfer of the site at a nominal value. The Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland is the funding source. The total cost is estimated to be £65 million.
Mr. Janner : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the minimum, maximum and average waiting times for (a) unfair dismissal, (b) redundancy rights, (c) maternity rights, (d) race discrimination and (e) other claims in Northern Ireland ; and what were the waiting times in 1979, 1989 and 1993.
Mr. Tim Smith : No information is available for 1979 and information for 1989 and 1993 is not available in the form requested. Northern Ireland does not have race discrimination legislation. The following table gives the percentage of industrial tribunal cases which came to a first hearing within the time limits specified :
Time limit |1989 |1993 (weeks) -------------------------------------------- 12 |1 |6 26 |28 |50 39 |72 |72 50 |91 |82
Mr. Soley : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) whether he will make a statement on his response to the report of the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights and the laws on abortion ;
(2) when he expects to publish the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights report on the law of abortion in Northern Ireland.
Sir Patrick Mayhew : The nineteenth annual report of the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights, which contains the commission's report and recommendations on abortion law in Northern Ireland, was published on 30 June 1994 along with my response. Copies of both documents have been placed in the Library. The recommendations made by the commission are being carefully considered.
Mr. McNamara : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many certificates have been issued by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland under section 42, in each year since the passing of the Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act 1976.
Patrick Gilmore, 1986.
John Tinnelly & Sons Ltd., 1987
F. W. Devlin, 1993.
Liam Devenney, 1993.
Thomas McCullough, 1994.
Information prior to 1986 could be provided only at
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what legislation or extradition agreements cover persons accused of trafficking in illegal drugs between the jurisdictions of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and accused of, or sought in relation to, dealing in such drugs in one jurisdiction who flee to the other.
Sir John Wheeler : People accused of trafficking in illegal drugs in Northern Ireland are covered by the Criminal Justice (Confiscation) (Northern Ireland) Order 1990 as amended by the Criminal Justice (Confiscation) (Northern Ireland) Order 1993. People accused of, or sought in relation to, drug trafficking offences committed in either jurisdiction who have fled to the other are covered by the Backing of Warrants (Republic of Ireland) Act 1965 or part III of the Irish Extradition Act 1965.
Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the cost in 1993 for each county in England, and in total, of payments made under (a) the environmentally sensitive area scheme, (b) the nitrate-sensitive area scheme, (c) the farm and conservation grant scheme, (d) the pilot beef and sheep extensification schemes, (e) the woodland grant scheme, (f) the farm woodland premium scheme, (g) the orchard grubbing scheme, (h) the optional five-year set-aside scheme, (i) the habitat scheme, (j) the moorland scheme, (k) the countryside access scheme and (l) the organic aid scheme ; and what is her estimate of the cost in 1994.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : Details of payments by English County under the farm and conservation grant scheme, the farm woodland premium scheme and the nitrate-sensitive areas scheme are set out in table A.
Information on the other schemes listed is not held in the format required to allow breakdown by county, which could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Total payments under each scheme in the 1993-94 financial year, and estimates for 1994-95, are given in table B.
Table A County |Farm and |Farm |Nitrate- |conservation|woodland |sensitive |grant scheme|premium |areas scheme |scheme |(£) |(£) |(£) --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Avon |304,204 |1,788 |- Bedford |162,127 |6,050 |- Berkshire |141,566 |9,263 |- Buckinghamshire |215,992 |11,895 |- Cambridgeshire |137,545 |10,475 |- Cheshire |1,147,364 |1,225 |- Cleveland |96,818 |5,995 |- Cornwall |1,622,808 |24,796 |- Cumbria |2,782,492 |2,795 |- Derbyshire |746,486 |2,788 |- Devon |2,609,138 |58,970 |- Dorset |768,257 |13,563 |- Durham |360,865 |4,116 |- Essex |439,835 |35,245 |- Gloucestershire |469,368 |30,503 |- Hampshire |410,342 |14,393 |- Hereford and Worcester |855,170 |64,953 |100,737 Hertfordshire |127,989 |2,335 |- Humberside |353,272 |12,918 |15,107 Isle of Wight |17,706 |2,875 |- Kent |508,772 |15,275 |- Lancashire |1,971,018 |2,343 |- Leicestershire |499,840 |15,158 |- Lincolnshire |469,770 |29,713 |789,713 London, Greater |9,154 |- |- Manchester, Greater |97,432 |- |- Merseyside |45,586 |- |- Norfolk |477,287 |20,533 |- Northamptonshire |240,792 |9,518 |- Northumberland |575,490 |14,657 |- Nottinghamshire |126,330 |2,675 |226,305 Oxfordshire |276,204 |35,491 |74,540 Scilly Isles |- |- |- Shropshire |975,634 |12,660 |- Somerset |1,006,530 |3,275 |55,858 Staffordshire |825,239 |4,956 |66,703 Suffolk |476,255 |24,665 |- Surrey |174,298 |3,588 |- Sussex, East |183,739 |14,775 |- Sussex, West |342,831 |19,668 |- Tyne and Wear |6,876 |- |- Warwickshire |220,667 |10,480 |- Wiltshire |604,968 |44,495 |76,375 West Midlands |36,259 |- |- Yorkshire, South |203,282 |3,358 |- Yorkshire, North |2,012,547 |28,589 |- Yorkshire, West |312,772 |2,526 |- |----- |---- |---- England Total |26,449,137 |635,359 |1,405,338
Table B Total expenditure (£'000s) Scheme |1993-94 |1994-95 ------------------------------------------------------------------- ESA scheme |16,550 |31,030 NSA scheme |<1>1,410 |<2>1,500 F and CG scheme |<1>26,450|27,140 Pilot beef and sheep extensification |401 |391 Woodland grant scheme |13,900 |<2>15,000 Farm woodland premium scheme |635 |<2>1,500 Orchard grubbing scheme |510 |<2>nil Optional five year set-aside scheme |20,685 |14,100 Habitat scheme |- |<3>- Moorland scheme |- |<4>- Countryside access scheme |- |<3>- Organic aid scheme |<5>- |800 <1>All figures are given by financial year except here which indicates calendar year. <2>Estimate. <3>First payment due in 1995-96. <4>Not yet operational. <5>Not operational.
|£ ------------------------ 1979-80 |45,000 1980-81 |74,000 1981-82 |112,000 1982-83 |137,000 1983-84 |145,000 1984-85 |157,000 1985-86 |178,000 1986-87 |184,000 1987-88 |172,000 1988-89 |188,000 1989-90 |235,000 1990-91 |282,000 1991-92 |289,000 1992-93 |269,000
(2) what support the Government are giving to research and development in respect of registering birds of prey by feather samples as part of a DNA registration data base.
Since 1987, my Department has been funding research at the University of Nottingham into the use of DNA fingerprinting techniques to establish the genetic variation in birds of prey. The Department expects to publish the report shortly.
In each of the bird of prey species that have so far been examined, DNA fingerprinting has proved capable of identifying individuals and their parentage. This has enabled captive breeding claims to be verified. The technique has already been used in criminal proceedings to identify individual birds that have been illegally taken from the wild or stolen from another keeper. There have been several convictions in cases where evidence from DNA tests was presented. The Government's priority is to
Column 49encourage the wider use of DNA tests to assist the police and others involved in enforcing the law on wildlife. The potential for other applications of DNA techniques will be kept under review, taking account of scientific progress and the availability of resources.
Mr. Bradley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what plans he has to redraft the Social Security (Sickness and Invalidity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance) Miscellaneous Amendment Regulations to give effect to disregard of voluntary work undertaken for under 16 hours per week when assessing incapacity for work ;
(2) what steps are being taken to implement the decision that people now on invalidity benefit and severe disablement allowance who undertake voluntary work of less than 16 hours per week will not have their incapacity for work questioned.
Mr. Scott : We have no plans to redraft the regulations. It is not our intention that people should lose benefit solely because they do voluntary work of less than 16 hours, and this has been made clear in revised guidance which has been issued to staff dealing with claims.
Mr. Bradley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the estimated costs to his Department of the provisions in the Social Security (Incapacity for Work) Bill for the training linking rule ; and how many people he estimates will use this rule to requalify (a) for incapacity benefit, (b) severe disablement allowance and (c) disability working allowance.
Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the Government's policy on the use of interest received on moneys held by the Child Support Agency ; and whether this interest will be paid to parents caring for children.
Mr. Burt : As indicated in Mr. Hughes' letter to the hon. Member of 8 July, on behalf of Mrs. Hepplewhite, the Child Support Agency does not receive interest from the bank in respect of clients' funds temporarily held by the agency. Instead the agency's bank charges are abated. The administrative costs of attributing amounts of interest to individuals would be disproportionate to the typically small amounts of money involved. Clients of the agency benefit from the lower bank charges and the economy of effort through the consequent reduction in the agency's administrative costs, which is reflected in the level of the fees charged.
Letter from Ros Hepplewhite to Dr. Lynne Jones, dated 15 July 1994 :
I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about Child Support Agency literature incorporating details of the effects on maintenance of the changes to legislation that were introduced in February.
The Child Support Agency published a new edition of its main leaflet for the general public called for parents who live apart at the end of June. This leaflet incorporates the legislative changes that were made to the Child Support system in February 1994. In addition, whenever a maintenance assessment is completed by the Agency, the clients involved receive a leaflet called your child maintenance assessment which also incorporates details of the changes. A revised version of the comprehensive leaflet called a guide to child support maintenance will be published in due course. I hope you will find this reply helpful.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether members of his Department have discussed legislation covering the Child Support Agency with Parliamentary Counsel in the last three months.
Mr. Bradley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was his estimate of the numbers of claimants expected to receive industrial injuries disablement benefit for chronic bronchitis and emphysema from (i) 13 September 1993 to March 1994 (ii) in 1994-95 and (iii) in 1995-96.
Mr. Scott : Information is not available in the form requested. The original broad estimate was that there could be around 9,000 benefit awards for claims received during the initial 12-month take-on period ending in August 1994. The number of new awards in subsequent years was expected to be small.
Mr. Hague : The Department cannot be said to "encourage" enforced subject access requests. The number of subject access requests to the national insurance recording system of the type that have become known as enforced subject access requests is reported in the 10th report of the Data Protection Registrar, section 3(k). The Department shares the concern of the Data Protection Registrar about the nature of this type of request, but is legally obliged to process all subject access requests.
Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received from the National Housing and Town Planning Council concerning student financial support ; and what consideration he has given to allowing students to claim year-round housing benefit.
Mr. Hague : I received a copy of the report, "Making a difference : Housing Benefit for students", published by the National Housing and Town Planning council on 23 June 1993. Following publication, the NHTPC wrote to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt), on two further occasions about the reinstatement of housing benefit to full-time students. In general, it is the educational maintenance system which is designed to provide for full-time students, and we have no plans to change this.
Mr. Bradley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the total amount paid in housing benefit for the last three years for which figures are available ; what was the total Government spending on the housing benefit direct benefit subsidy during these years ; and what is the implied percentage of total housing benefit paid by local authorities which is reimbursed by the central Government direct benefit subsidy.
£ million |1990-91|1991-92|1992-93 -------------------------------------------------------------------- Total housing benefit |4,942 |5,997 |7,604 Total direct subsidy |4,378 |5,337 |6,613 Percentage of total housing benefit expenditure met by direct subsidy |89 |89 |87 Source: Social Security Departmental Report-March 1994. Note: Since 1990-91, the bulk of rent rebate subsidy in England and Wales has been paid by the Department of the Environment as part of the housing revenue account arrangements. These figures include elements of DoE rent rebate subsidy net of any housing revenue account surpluses that are used to offset these amounts.
Mr. Bradley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security for the last three years for which figures are available, what was the total amount of subsidy paid in benefit in respect of vulnerable groups under regulation 11 of the housing benefit regulations ; and, for the same period, what was the total amount paid as a subsidy to local authorities.