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Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will list those of his Department's advisory non-departmental public bodies which the Government are required to consult before legislation proposals; and in respect of which bodies the Government must publish their response to advice supplied by them.
Mr. Sproat [pursuant to his reply, 5 July 1994,c. 179]: I regret to inform the House that the answer given was incorrect. The correct reply is as follows: the Government are not required to consult any of the advisory bodies for which my Department is responsible before legislation proposals, or to publish a response to their advice. However, my Department would normally consult an advisory body on policy matters which might affect it.
Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will list the advisory non-departmental public bodies sponsored by his Department which are required to lay their annual report before Parliament.
Mr. Sproat [pursuant to his reply, 5 July 1994,c. 180]: I regret to inform the House that the answer given was incorrect. The correct reply is as follows: the Reviewing Committee on the Exports of Works of Art and the Library and Information Services Council are the only advisory bodies for which my Department is responsible which are required to report annually and whose reports are laid in Parliament. The Committee's report is presented as a Command Paper and the Council's report forms part of the Secretary of State's annual report on the public library service, published as a House of Commons Paper. Reports from the Royal Fine Art Commission are also presented to Parliament as Command Papers, although there is no requirement for it to report annually.
Mr. Sproat [pursuant to his reply, 5 July 1994,c. 180]: I regret to inform the House that the answer given was incorrect. The correct reply is as follows: the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art, the Library and Information Services Council and the Theatres Trust are the only advisory bodies which are required to produce reports annually.
Mr. Sproat [pursuant to his reply, 11 July 1994,c. 469]: I regret to inform the House that the answer given was incorrect. The correct reply is as follows: the Library and Information Services Council was established under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 and the Theatres Trust was established under the Theatres Trust Act 1976.
Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what options for housing will be available to a homeless family accepted as being in priority need and not intentionally homeless for the 12 months after they became homeless as a result of the statement on access to local authority housing;
(2) what options for housing will be available to a homeless family accepted as being in priority need and not intentionally homeless for the 12-month period of the first temporary tenancy if they are still not entitled to a local authority home according to the waiting list, as a result of the statement on access to local authority housing.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: If such a family have no accommodation available which is suitable in terms of its general condition and in relation to the family's particular needs the Government's homelessness reforms propose that the local authority would have a recurring duty to arrange such accommodation.
Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to consult further on matters contained in the statement on access to local authority housing; on which matters he will be consulting; with which organisations; and during which time period.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: My officials will be holding further discussions with local authority and housing association representatives, and other relevant organisations, both in preparation for legislation and in taking forward those matters which do not require legislation.
Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how he intends to tighten up the code of guidance so that applications should be more thoroughly vetted following the statement on access to local authority housing.
Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what provisions are made under the proposals contained in the statement on access to local authority housing for a family accepted as homeless to be given a succession of temporary tenancies; and if it is intended that there will be a limit on the number of such tenancies or the period of time they can last for individually or together.
Mr. Roberts B. Jones: The terms of the provisions will depend upon how the legislation is drafted. But the Government's intention is that the local authority would have a duty to find accommodation for an eligible homeless household for a minimum of 12 months, and if the household continues to need assistance the duty would recur. In practice, a tenancy arranged by the authority to
Column 14discharge its duty might well last longer than 12 months. In many parts of the country the household would gain local authority or housing association accommodation via a waiting list within 12 months.
Mr. Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make it his policy that the costs of leakages in the water system and of cleaning water from pollution not created by consumers should be clearly identified, and an equitable system devised for the costs that these factors create; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins: The Government believe that wherever possible, those responsible for pollution should bear the costs of any necessary treatment. Each water company must exercise effective control over losses from the distribution system. Their success in controlling such losses is reflected in the scope for further efficiency savings in their operations, which has a direct bearing on the price limits determined by the director general and hence the charges faced by consumers.
Mr. Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will establish an independent review of water and sewerage charges with the remit of establishing a system which does not encourage limitations in water use that create public and individual health risks and taking into account the contribution that customers, the water companies and their shareholders and also those polluting water supplies should make to the costs of investment in water and sewerage services.
Mr. Atkins: The Government have every confidence in the effectiveness of the existing regulatory system and the ability of the Director General of Water Services, who is carrying out his responsibilities as an independent regulator, and who has a duty to protect the interests of customers and to ensure that charges for water and sewerage are fair and equitable.
Mrs. Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to meet the Countryside Commission's target to clear, waymark and remove obstructions from all the 120,000 miles of public right of way in England.
Mr. Atkins: Achieving the target is essentially a matter for local highway authorities, with farmers, landowners and path users also having a role to play. The Countryside Commission's "Milestones" initiative encourages all those involved with rights of way to work together to achieve the target. Good progress is being made.
Mr. Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make it his policy that water companies should be required to indicate where disconnections have occurred in households in receipt of state support and to make public such disconnections; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins: No. Where water companies disconnect a water supply to an inhabited house and do not restore the supply within 24 hours, they are already required, under the Water Industry Act 1991, to inform the local authority in whose area the house is situated.
Mr. Atkins: My Department, together with other Government departments, is to participate in a project led by the Central Statistical Office to develop a pilot system of satellite accounts linked to the input/output framework of national accounts.
Sir Paul Beresford: There are no proposals to review the policy on archaeology and planning as set out in PPG 16. However, the Department of National Heritage and English Heritage are reviewing the implementation of this PPG. Consultants have been appointed and preparatory work for a study is now under way.
Sir Paul Beresford: Mr right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment published on Thursday 13 October draft legislative provisions to establish an Environment Agency for England and Wales and a Scottish Environment Protection Agency, together with a draft of the management statement for the Environment Agency. Copies have been placed in the House Libraries. The published draft clauses and schedules set out the constitution of the new agencies and their functions, powers and duties. They represent the core legislative provisions relating to the agencies, which will be presented to Parliament at the earliest opportunity as part of an environmental Bill. This early publication of the agency provisions will give interested parties a chance to inform themselves of the details of the proposed legislation before it is introduced to Parliament.
Sir Paul Beresford: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment announced on 7 October that he has decided not to proceed with a merger of the Countryside Commission and English Nature. Instead, a programme of closer working is to be developed.
Mr. Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what response he has made to the British Medical Association report, "Water A Vital Resource", a copy of which has been sent to him; and if he will make a statement.
Column 16BMA's board of science report "Water A Vital Resource" on 16 June 1994, with which I and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State are in full agreement.
Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is (a) the value of assets sold under the right-to-buy legislation, (b) the proceeds received by local authorities and housing associations, (c) the money which local authorities have been allowed to spend from the proceeds and (d) the amount of the proceeds spent by local authorities, for each year from 1980 to date.
However, figures of receipts from sales of council dwellings to sitting tenants are collected by the Department and these show that between the introduction of right to buy in 1980 and the end of March 1994 the total value of such sitting tenant sales, net of discounts, is an estimated £18.5 billion.
The number of sales to sitting tenants during this period was about 1,280,000 and 92 per cent. of such sales resulted from tenants exercising their right to buy.
Mr. Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will place in the Library a full copy of the National Rivers Authority's report into the causes of pollution at Helpston Health landfill site, Cambridgeshire; and whether, as a result of the full report, he expects Hunt's Refuse or Shanks and McEwan to be prosecuted for allowing leaching from the site to pollute the water supply.
Sir Paul Beresford: Copies of the report commissioned by the National Rivers Authority on groundwater contamination in the area around Helpston, Cambridgeshire have been placed in the House Libraries. It is for the National Rivers Authority to consider whether or not it will prosecute.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment who represented his Department at the Plan for Profit conference on waste management in London on 20 September; what was the cost of attendance; and what assessment he has made of the benefits accrued to his Department from the participation of departmental personnel.
Mr. Atkins: The Department's directorate of pollution control and wastes was represented at this annual conference organised by the National Association of Waste Disposal Contractors by the head of directorate, the head of wastes technical division and two other officers, as guests of the association. Representation was at a level consistent with the need to maintain the Department's working relationship with the industry and to keep abreast of issues of concern to the industry following the introduction of the new licensing regime earlier this year.
Column 17Ramsar convention on wetlands preservation since August; how many sites within the United Kingdom or under the United Kingdom jurisdiction are now listed under Ramsar; and which additional sites are under consideration for inclusion on the Ramsar list.
Mr. Atkins: Three additional wetlands of international importance have been added to the list of Ramsar sites since August; Loch Maree; Broadland; and Booby Pond and Rookery, Little Cayman. There are currently 83 United Kingdom Ramsar sites, including two sites in United Kingdom dependent territories. In due course some 70 further sites within the United Kingdom are expected to be considered for listing under the Ramsar convention. Further listings can also be expected in the United Kingdom dependent territories.
Mr. Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions there have been about eco-labels with other EC countries and EU institutions in the last three months; and if he will make a statement about progress towards an eco-labelling system in the EU.
Sir Paul Beresford: The United Kingdom Ecolabelling Board has had discussions with the ecolabelling competent bodies in to her member states and with the Commission about the delays there have been in implementing the EC scheme. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade wrote expressing his concerns about the delays to the Commissioner for Industrial Affairs and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State raised this matter at the Environment Council on 4 October. The Council unanimously adopted conclusions condemning the Commission for the delays and calling upon it to act quickly to put matters right.
Mr. Benton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he proposes to take against the dumping of toxic waste and other hazardous materials (a) in the port of Liverpool and (b) other United Kingdom ports; and if he will give immediate consideration to the proposals set out in the letter to him from the hon. Member for Knowsley, North (Mr. Howarth) of 19 September.
Mr. Atkins: Day-to-day control over imports of waste is a matter for local waste regulation authorities. In cases of waste entering the port of Liverpool, the responsible authority is Merseyside waste regulation authority.
Government policy on the export and import of waste was announced on 15 June. In line with the principle of self-sufficiency which was set out in the 1990 environment White Paper, the presumption in future will be against imports of waste into the United Kingdom for disposal, other than in exceptional cases where wider environmental considerations apply. Imports for genuine recovery operations will continue to be allowed. My Department will be consulting publicly on more detailed proposals, in the form of a draft waste management plan, later this year.
With regard to the proposals made by the hon. Member for Knowsley, North (Mr. Howarth) for a national waste disposal strategy, I refer to my right hon. Friend's answer to my hon. Friend, the Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Brandreth) on 20 July, Official Report , column 322 ,
Column 18in which he announced the Government's intention to draw up a draft waste strategy for England and Wales. This will aim to provide a coherent framework for waste management policies throughout the country. The draft strategy will be issued for consultation by the end of the year.
(2) if the police have been included in consultation over the deregulation of wildlife sales control.
Sir Paul Beresford: Yes. My Department consulted the police when the review started, and subsequently when our proposals to reduce the scope of the bird registration system were announced. The police have agreed to participate in an official level working group which will be reviewing the enforcement of sales and related controls.
Ms. Estelle Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what measures are being taken to protect existing spending commitments to the Heartlands urban development corporation under the new bidding regime of the single regeneration budget; and what are the existing commitments for the financial year (a) 1995 96, (b) 1996 97, (c) 1997 98 and (d) 1998-99.
Sir Paul Beresford: UDC's form a self-contained grouping within the SRB and all existing commitments will be honoured. The level of grant in future years will be determined, in the light of corporate plans, at the outcome of the current public expenditure survey. Birmingham Heartlands development corporation will have entered into commitments on the basis of its anticipated total income which includes receipts and funding from the European regional development fund. BHDC has been given an indicative wind- up date of March 1997 and its future expenditure strategy has been planned accordingly.
Mr. Spearing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received concerning the level of housing association grant rate for 1995 96; what response he has made to the opinions of the Environment Committee on this topic; and what criteria he has adopted for determining that figure for 1995 96.
The Select Committee's report into the work of the Housing Corporation made no specific proposal concerning grant rates in 1995 96. Their general view that grant rates should be maintained in the absence of falls in procurement costs was carefully considered. The Housing Corporation advised me on the implications of changes in development costs and tenants' incomes, and the likely impact of lower grant rates on rents and affordability and on the supply of private finance to support the development programme. Their
Column 19analysis has been published, and copies have been placed in the Library of the House. It shows that the reduction in grant rates that my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Urban Regeneration announced on 3 August 1994 was very largely justified by lower procurement costs.
Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from (a) the Council of Mortgage Lenders or (b) other private financial institutions on the level of housing association grant.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Ministers here, as well as officials from my Department and the Housing Corporation, are in regular contact with lenders and with the Council of Mortgage Lenders. On the basis of those discussions, I am confident that private finance will continue to be available to enable associations to deliver the substantial programme of new affordable homes for which we have made provision.
Mr. Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list for the last five years all EU environmental directives which have not yet been incorporated into United Kingdom law; and when he expects regulations to be published to do this.
Mr. Atkins: The main environmental directives still to be legally transposed in the United Kingdom are the nitrates directive, the urban waste water treatment directive and the habitats directive. The House of Commons has approved the regulations needed to transpose the habitats directive and these are being considered by the other place today. Regulations to implement the urban waste water treatment directive are being drafted and work to implement the nitrates directive is in hand.
Mr. Spearing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will provide a reference for, or list in the Official Report , the budgeted expenditure on homelessness within the general fund of each local authority in England for the financial year 1994 95.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: In common with the whole of the construction industry, the Government have given a warm welcome to the trust of Sir Michael Latham's report. We have invited Sir Michael to lead the initial implementation phase and provided administrative and other resources to ensure that momentum can be maintained. We are participating fully with industry and client groups to develop detailed responses to the report's recommendations. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has approved an interdepartmental scrutiny of Government's procurement of construction in response to Sir Michael's recommendation that the Government should commit themselves to being a best practice client.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: We shall now be examining with industry and client groups Sir Michael Latham's particular proposals. We have made it clear that we are prepared in principle to legislate on these matters subject to agreement on the need and form of such legislation.
Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what policies his Department has for encouraging progress in the construction industry for operatives and companies from ethnic minorities.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Sir Michael Latham's report, "Constructing the Team", recommended that equal opportunities in the industry should be vigorously pursued. A joint task force is being established to progress this recommendation. My Department will take an active part.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: We expect to make an announcement about council tax transitional relief at the same time as the local government finance supplement proposals are announced, shortly after the Chancellor's Budget statement.
Ms. Estelle Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was spent on programmes of section 11, estate action and urban programme in 1994 95; and what sum is committed to these programmes for 1995 96 (a) nationally and (b) in Birmingham.
Sir Paul Beresford: Planned spending by my Department in 1994 95 on these elements within the single regeneration budget is £60.5 million on section 11, £372.6 million on estate action and £82.9 million on the urban programme.
In 1995 96 all existing commitments within the single regeneration budget will be honoured with the level of resources for each of the component elements of the budget determined at the outcome of the current public expenditure survey.
Within Birmingham commitments in 1995 96 are currently £22.08 million for estate action and £1.14 million for the urban programme. The basis for the calculation of future commitments under the section 11 programme is still the subject of discussion with local authorities.
Mr. Spearing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will state for the London borough of Newham the capital debt and relevant interest paid in respect of borrowing sanctioned by him or other Ministers in the year 1993 94 and the related standard spending assessment and basis of its calculations.
Column 21limits permitted under part IV of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989.
The SSA element for debt charges is intended to cover in full the financing costs associated with the appropriate amount of debt which would allow an authority to provide a standard level of service. It is based on those elements of the 1989 90 grant-related expenditure assessment relating to capital financing and credit approvals issued since 1 April 1990. It excludes credits approvals and assumed debt associated with the housing revenue account and credit approvals which are not expected to lead to a net increase in long-term borrowing. Newham's SSA element for debt charges in the 1994 95 revenue support grant settlement was £18.903 million. This financing cost was based on assumed debt outstanding for SSA purposes of £136.512 million at 1 April 1994 and estimated credit approvals for 1994 95 of £9.115 million. The estimate of 1993 94 credit approvals used in the calculation of assumed debt outstanding at 1 April 1994 was £9.476 million.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: My right hon. Friend and Ministers in his Department have frequent meetings with the Council of Mortgage Lenders. Most recently, my noble Friend the Earl of Arran, then Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State for the Environment, met the Council of Mortgage Lenders on 7 June 1994.
Ms. Estelle Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what measures are being taken to protect existing spending commitments to the Castle Vale housing action trust under the new bidding regime of the single regeneration budget; and what are the existing commitments for the financial years (a) 1995 96, (b) 1996 97, (c) 1997 98 and (d) 1998 99.
Sir Paul Beresford: Housing action trusts form a self-contained grouping within the single regeneration budget and all existing commitments will be honoured. The level of grant-in-aid for the Castle Vale HAT for 1995 96 and indicative figures for the two following years will be determined in the light of all the trusts' corporate plans at the outcome of the current public expenditure survey.
Ms. Estelle Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the maximum sum available to the Birmingham area from new bids under the single regeneration budget in 1995 96 on a basis pro rata to the current distribution of the totality of programmes now within the single regeneration budget.
Sir. Paul Beresford: In the current financial year forecast expenditure on the single regeneration budget nationally is £1442 million and it is expected that £68 million of this will be spent within Birmingham.
The amount of resources available to the Birmingham area for new bids will not be known until the results of the bidding round are announced in January 1995.
Ms. Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many women and children used women's refuges in England and Wales in each of the last 10 years, and during 1994 to the latest available date;
(2) what assessment has been made by his Department of the level of demand for places in women's refuges; what plans he has to increase refuge provision; and if he will make a statement;
(3) how many (a) women's refuges and (b) places in women's refuges have been available to women escaping domestic violence in England and Wales in each of the last 10 years and at the latest available date.