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Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many samples, and from how many sites, were taken in each European member state from the sea during each of the last three years for the purpose of assessing compliance with the European Community directive on bathing water quality ; how many field staff were involved ; and what have been the results in respect of salmonella and enteroviruses ;
(2) how many samples were taken from the sea in the United Kingdom in each of the last three years as part of the nation's bathing water quality survey ; how many staff were involved ; how many samples were taken ; how many sites were identified for the purposes of assessing compliance with the European Community directive on bathing water quality ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : Information on the numbers of coastal bathing water sites monitored under the bathing water Directive, the number of samples and the results for each member state, but not the number of field staff involved, is included in the EC Commission annual report on bathing waters. Information for 1991, 1992 and 1993 is contained in the 1992 and 1993 reports, copies of which have been placed in the Library. The reports show the high standard of the United Kingdom monitoring programme and the continuing steady improvement in United Kingdom bathing water compliance.
Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which countries have received funds from the European Union for cleaning up their beaches and improving the quality of their water supplies in each of the last three years ; and what are the amounts received.
Mr. Atkins : For the period 1989 to 1993, the European Commission allocated to member states grants from the European regional development fund of the amounts shown. ERDF grant assistance may be used for a wide variety of activities, including the provision of water infrastructure and environmental projects. There are no published figures available which show the amounts specifically allocated to the cleaning of beaches or for the improvement of water quality.
ERDF |(MECU |1992 |Prices) ------------------------------- Belgium |330 Denmark |60 Germany |2,482 Greece |4,508 Spain |9,071 France |2,151 Irish Republic |2,019 Italy |6,631 Luxembourg |31 Netherlands |166 Portugal |4,592 United Kingdom |3,235 |--- Total |35,276
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement regarding the harassment of women in private rented accommodation by their landlords ; what representations he has received by (a) women individually and (b) women's organisations ; if he will list the women's organisations concerned ; and what is the total number of complaints he has received.
Sir George Young : We are aware of and deplore this kind of behaviour by a small minority of unscrupulous landlords. It was for this reason that the Housing Act 1988 strengthened the provisions against harassment in the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, to increase protection for all tenants.
Since 1991, we have received a total of 24 complaints from private tenants alleging harassment by their landlords. Of these, five were from individual women, but only one of these implied sexual harassment. No representations have been received from women's organisations.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals he has received from women's organisations for dealing with harassment by private landlords ; what consultations he has had with (a) women's organisations and (b) private landlords about harassment ; and what proposals he has for dealing with harassment of women in private accommodation by landlords.
Local authorities are empowered to prosecute landlords who harass tenants under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. Many local authorities have tenancy relations teams to investigate complaints of harassment.
Sir George Young : My Department's expenditure plans for the period 1994-95 to 1996-97 are set out in its annual report, Cm 2507. Directing public spending towards the areas and households thart are in greatest need is a high priority for our housing programmes.
Mr. Milburn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will publish the names of the employers joined by special advisers who left his Department in each of the last five years ; (2) how many special advisers who left his Department in each of the last five years became (a) management consultants and (b) joined a firm of consultants.
|Joined|Left ---------------------------- 1989 |2 |1 1990 |1 |1 1991 |6 |1 1992 |1 |5 1993 |1 |1
So far this year, one special adviser has joined and one has left this Department.
Mr. Rendel : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the latest figures on the number of properties in each of the eight council tax bands (a) in figures and (b) in percentage terms.
Valuation |Number of band |dwellings |Percentage -------------------------------------------- A |5,326,406 |26.3 B |3,888,174 |19.2 C |4,408,430 |21.8 D |2,950,065 |14.6 E |1,819,759 |9.0 F |970,612 |4.8 G |735,148 |3.6 H |117,278 |0.6
Mr. Rendel : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many people in England and Wales have had their council tax bill reduced (a) through a discount, (b) through the disability reduction scheme, (c) through the council tax benefit and (d) through the second adult rebate ;
(2) if he will publish a table showing, for each collecting local authority in England and Wales, the latest figures available of the level of take-up of (a) the single person discount and (b) discounts excluding the single person discount.
Mr. Curry : Information on local authorities in Wales is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales. Information on numbers of people having a reduction in their council tax bill is not held centrally. The available information is as follows :
Column 314(a) the number of dwellings in England on 1 December 1993 subject to a single (25 per cent.) discount was 6,090,000. An additional 500,000 dwellings were subject to a double (50 per cent.) discount ;
(b) 96,000 dwellings in England on 1 December 1993 were eligible for a reduction for disabled relief ;
(c) the average caseload in England in 1993-94 for recipients of council tax benefit was 4,570,000--( Source : Department of Social Security) ;
(d) the average caseload in England in 1993-94 for recipients of second adult rebates was 43,000--( Source : Department of Social Security).
I have arranged for a table showing the number of council tax discounts for each local authority in England to be placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Rendel : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to aid local authorities in their promotion of the take-up by council tax payers of the various ways of reducing their council tax bills.
Mr. Curry : My Department and the Department of Social Security have produced a range of leaflets explaining entitlement to council tax discounts, exemptions and rebates. I am not aware that local authorities feel in need of further assistance.
Mr. Curry : I have no plans to do so. Local authorities normally use bailiffs only when other means of recovery, such as attachment of earnings and deductions from income support, have been unsuccessful or are inappropriate to the circumstances.
Mr. Rendel : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of properties within band A is valued at (a) £10,000 or less, (b) £10,000 to £19,999, (c) £20,000 to £29,999, or (d) £30,000 to £40,000.
Mr. Rendel : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish a table showing for each collecting local authority in England and Wales the latest figures available of the level of use of distress to enforce council tax payments.
Mr. Rendel : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will consider introducing a requirement on local authorities to report on the remedies used to collect council tax debts once a liability order has been made.
Mr. Curry : My Department collects statistics on the number of liability orders obtained by local authorities in respect of council tax debts, but I have no plans to introduce a requirement for authorities to submit data on the precise method of recovery they use in each case. Having obtained a liability order, most authorities will apply an attachment of earnings if the person is working, or apply for deductions to be made direct from income support if this is appropriate. Where this is not possible, or other arrangements break down, the authority will normally seek to levy distress.
Mr. Rendel : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the total number of parish meetings in England and Wales ; and what proportion of the total number of parish authorities this represents.
Mr. Byers : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list for each local education authority for each year since 1989-90 (a) the total revenue expenditure of the relevant council on all services, (b) the total revenue expenditure on all education services and (c) (b) as a percentage of (a).
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many complaints he has received with regard to water seepage and flooding from residents in Coventry ; and what was their nature.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will outline the responsibilities of water authorities to the consumer for water seepage and flood damage and for the costs involved ; and how the responsibility is determined.
Mr. Atkins : Water undertakers have the same responsibilities as anyone else under the law of torts for damage caused by water escaping from their mains and pipes. In addition, there are specific statutory obligations under section 209 of the Water Industry Act 1991, which generally makes water undertakers strictly liable for loss or damage caused by the escape of water from their pipes and under schedule 12 to that Act which imposes strict liability for, among other things, damage to land or buildings attributable to the exercise of water and sewerage undertakers' works powers. Compensation under schedule 12 is assessed by the lands tribunal or an arbitrator, according to the provision concerned ; other claims are a matter for the ordinary courts.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the responsibilities of the regulator for the water industry in dealing with seepage and flooding and determination of responsibility in these matters.
(a) to consider complaints by consumers that a water or sewerage undertaker is in breach of requirements enforceable under section 18 of that Act and, in appropriate circumstances, to take suitable enforcement action ;
(b) to investigate complaints about water and sewerage undertakers' carrying out works on private land and, if appropriate, to award payments of up to £5,000 to the complainant for any failure, loss, damage or inconvenience ;
Column 316(c) to investigate, either directly or through a customer service committee established by him, other complaints about water and sewerage undertakers' discharge of their functions, and to take such action as he thinks appropriate, including making representations to the company concerned.
Depending on their nature, complaints about seepage and flooding from the activities of water and sewerage undertakers could come under any of these arrangements.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will ensure the proper co-ordination between the Severn Trent water authority and environmental health authorities in Coventry in dealing with water seepage resulting in flooding ; and if he will investigate the methods used by the Severn Trent water authority for establishing the source of the seepage and flooding of the Wykes family home at 19 Lindley road, Coventry, and why they have failed to accept responsibility for dealing and establishing the source of the flooding.
Mr. Atkins : The Severn Trent water authority ceased to function on 31 August 1989. Responsibility for water supply and sewerage in Coventry now lies with Severn Trent Water Limited, a private-sector company. Co- ordination between that company and Coventry city council is a matter for those bodies. Statutory arrangements exist under the Director General of Water Services for investigating complaints by consumers against water and sewerage undertakers. It would not, therefore, be appropriate for the Secretary of State to intervene.
Mr. Gale : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what is Her Majesty's Government's current position towards a resumption of the inter-nation trade in elephant products ; (2) what steps Her Majesty's Government propose to take to encourage South Africa to withdraw its proposals to downlist the African elephant ;
(3) if Her Majesty's Government intend to support the appendix 1 listing all African elephant populations at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Specicies meeting to be held in November ;
(4) what is the current position of Her Majesty's Government towards any resumption of the trade in ivory.
Mr. Atkins : At the last meeting of the conference of the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora--CITES--in Kyoto in March 1992, the Government opposed proposals on the part of some southern African countries to resume trade in ivory and to downlist some African elephant populations from appendix I to appendix II.
As for the forthcoming meeting of the conference of the parties to be held in Fort Lauderdale in November, the Government have not yet reached any conclusions on the proposals tabled by South Africa and the Sudan. Before doing so, we wish to consider the report of the panel of experts, established by CITES, and to take account of reactions of other African elephant range states. The Government's overall position is that we would not support any change in the status of the African elephant under CITES, unless we were satisfied that this would not put at risk elephant populations in the country concerned or any other country.
Column 317invited, and will be invited, to participate in the forthcoming meeting organised by the United Kingdom and designed to develop greater understanding between the range states, potential consumer states and other interested parties on the African elephant issue in the context of CITES.
Mr. Atkins : At the last meeting of the conference of the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora--CITES--in Kyoto in March 1992, the then President of the EC Environment Council urged that there should be more intersessional dialogue between parties on controversial issues including that of the elephant and the rhino. Since then, the European Union has been exploring the possibility of such a dialogue between the main countries concerned with the status of the African elephant. After widespread consultation among African and other Governments, including an exploratory mission, the EU has concluded that there is an opportunity for such dialogue.
The meeting is being arranged in Botswana in September this year, and a list of those invited follows :
Central African Republic
Rest of world
United States of America
In addition, representatives of CITES, the United
Column 318Nations Environment Programme, the world conservation union--IUCN--and a small number of expert advisers have been invited. The aim of the meeting is to exchange information and to discuss positions of the countries involved. It is not to make resolutions or to pre-empt discussions at the wider meeting of the CITES conference of the parties. The United Kingdom is taking the lead in organising the meeting, on behalf of the European Union and in consultation with the presidency.
Mr. Day : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the operation of the United Kingdom national plan implementing the EC large combustion plants directive ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : The sector emission limits specified in the national plan have consistently been observed. However, the Government keep the operation of the plan under review, in order to take account of changes in the pattern of industrial activity, the structure of industries and the pace of technological change and its effects on emissions. In the light of a recent review, and after consultation with the industries concerned, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has decided, in exercise of his powers under section 3(5) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, to make a minor revision to the plan to allow a small increase in the sector limit for emissions of oxides of nitrogen, NOx, from the refineries in England and Wales. The increase will be offset by an equivalent reduction in the NOx sector limit for the electricity supply industry in England and Wales. There will thus be no increase in the overall sector limits for England and Wales. The revised figures are set out in the table.
Revised LCPD national plan NO<1> limits for England and Wales (in kilotonnes) |1993 |1994 |1995 |1996 |1997 |1998 ---------------------------------------------------------------------- National Power |418 |401 |386 |369 |354 |340 |(402)|(387)|(371)|(356) Powergen |256 |247 |236 |227 |217 |209 |(237)|(228)|(218) |--- |--- |--- |--- |--- |--- England and Wales Sub-total |674 |648 |622 |596 |571 |549 |(649)|(624)|(599)|(574) Refineries |25 |25 |25 |25 |25 |21 |(24) |(23) |(22) |(22) <1>The figures in the National Plan prior to the changes are shown in parentheses where any change has been made.
Mr. Baldry : The Government fully appreciate the concern on Tyneside over the future of Swan Hunter following the decision on the Sir Bedivere refit. The receiver will wish to consider the position and I am asking the regional director of the Government Office for the north-east to contact him, the local authorities, Tyne and Wear development corporation, Tyneside training and