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Police Finances

Mr. Michael: To ask the Prime Minister which Department of State is responsible for (a) setting and (b) publishing standard spending assessments regarding police force areas in (i) England and (ii) Wales.

The Prime Minister: The Department of the Environment for England, and the Welsh Office for Wales, are responsible for setting and publishing the standard spending assessments for all local authorities.

In England, there is a distinct component of the SSA for police; this is prepared in discussion with the Home Office. In Wales, there is no such distinct component, but the SSAs for county councils include provision for the police service.

Nolan Committee

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister if allegations of illegal donations to the election funds of political parties are to be brought to the attention of Lord Nolan's committee on the standards of conduct in public life.

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Meirionnyddd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) on 31 October 1994, Official Report, column 911.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister what remuneration will be received by each member of the Nolan committee in regard to their time commitments;


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what expenses are to be made available to members of the Committee; for what duration each committee member is appointed; and from what budget administrative and support resources for the Nolan committee will be drawn.

The Prime Minister: I will write to the hon. Member.

Lobbying Organisations

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Prime Minister (1) on what occasions in the past two years he has acceded to requests from former Ministers to meet or otherwise contact lobbying companies; and what guidance he gives to former Ministers as to what services they may offer to such companies;

(2) what lobbying organisations he has met over the last year; and on what dates he met representatives of each organisation.

The Prime Minister: I will write to the hon. Member.

Ministers (Remunerated Employment)

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Prime Minister which Ministers pursue remunerated employment outside their ministerial duties; and if he will list in each case the employment, how much time is spent on it, and what financial gain the Minister receives from it.

The Prime Minister: I will write to the hon. Member.

Member for Norfolk, South

Mr. Wilson: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what advice the right hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. MacGregor), while acting as Secretary of State for Transport gave to the British Railways Board in connection with the employment of Hill Samuel to provide advice on its disposal programme; and on what date;

(2) pursuant to his answer of 31 October, Official Report, column 914, if he will now state the date on which the right hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. MacGregor) indicated his intention to leave the Government;

(3) if Messrs Hill Samuel paid pension contributions on behalf of the right hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. MacGregor) during his period of ministerial office or any part thereof; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: I will write to the hon. Member.

Council of Europe

Mr. Duncan: To ask the Prime Minister what changes he has made to the composition of the United Kingdom delegation to the 1994 session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend, the Member for Poole (Mr. Ward), has resigned as a full member of the delegation, following his appointment as my parliamentary private secretary, and has been replaced by my hon. Friend, the Member for Reading, West (Sir A. Durant), who is currently a substitute member. My hon. Friend, the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Sir I. Patnick), will be appointed as a substitute member of the delegation in place of my hon. Friend, the Member for Reading, West. These changes take effect from today.


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Al Yamamah Agreement

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will ensure that Mr. Christopher Prentice, a Foreign Office diplomat working at the British embassy in Washington in the mid-1980s, is interviewed about the Yamamah deal.

(2) pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell- Savours) of 25 October, Official Report, column 520, regarding the Al Yamamah agreement, if he will set out the nature of the errors to which he refers.

The Prime Minister: I will write to the hon. Member.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Probate

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) if he will introduce legislation to enable banks and other institutions in England and Wales to comply with instructions on the disposal of assets from a person granted probate under the law of Scotland without the need for the grant to be resealed under the law of England and Wales;

(2) whether a grant for a registrar in Scotland under rule 19 of the Non- contentious Probate Rules 1987, may have effect in England and Wales if it has not been resealed by the English courts; (3) if he will introduce legislation to enable banks in England and Wales to release money from a bank account to a person or persons granted probate by the crown courts to administer the estate of a deceased person holding that account without a need for the grant to be resealed by a court in England and Wales.

Mr. John M. Taylor: The Administration of Estates Act 1971 already makes provision for the reciprocal recognition in any one part of the United Kingdom of grants and confirmations issued in any other part, without the need for resealing.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department whether Scotland is regarded as a foreign country for the purposes of rule 19 of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987; and whether the registrar may accept under sub-paragraph (a) an affidavit as to the law of Scotland from a person who is not a notary practising in Scotland.

Mr. John M. Taylor: For the purposes of rule 19, "foreign law" includes the law of any part of the United Kingdom other than England and Wales. By virtue of the Civil Evidence Act 1972, it is not necessary for a witness giving evidence of foreign law to be a practitioner of the system of law in question, provided he is otherwise suitably qualified to do so.

Departmental Property

Mr. Byers: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what properties are owned or leased by the Department for the use of Ministers; what was the total running cost for each property for the latest year available broken down into (a) furniture and fittings, (b) maintenance, (c) staffing, including the number of butlers and cooks and housekeepers, (d) food and hospitality and (e) other costs; what is the estimated value


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of each property; and how many times in the latest year the property was stayed in overnight by a Minister.

Mr. John M. Taylor: Excluding Departmental offices, the Lord Chancellor's Department has no properties which are owned or leased for the use of Ministers.

Legal Aid

Mr. Byers: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will identify individuals who have received more than £1 million from the legal aid fund towards their legal costs in the past 10 years; what has been the total amount paid in each case; and what was the nature of the legal proceedings.

Mr. John M. Taylor: I regret that it has not been possible to provide an answer before prorogation. I shall write to the hon. Member and place a copy of the letter in the Library.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) if he will list by region the number of fraudulent legal aid claims by solicitors for the period 1992 93 and 1993 94;

(2) what percentage of total moneys paid out by the legal aid fund in each region relate to fraudulent claims by solicitors in the last three years;

(3) how many cases of possible fraudulent claims for legal aid are being investigated by him in each region.

Mr. John M. Taylor: I will write to the hon. Member.

Mr. John Marshall: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department in how many civil cases in 1993 94 both parties were in receipt of legal aid.

Mr. John M. Taylor: This information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Michael Brown: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans the Government have to improve control of the green form scheme.

Mr. John M. Taylor: The green form scheme is an important means of access to legal advice for people on low incomes. In 1993 94, over 1, 600,000 people received help from the green form scheme. Over recent months however the Government and the Legal Aid board have become increasingly concerned about the opportunities for abuse which exist in the scheme.

As a result, the Legal Aid board has conducted an internal review of its systems for detecting fraud and abuse of the green form scheme, and has put in place a number of administrative changes designed to ensure that suspect claims under the green form scheme are speedily detected and acted upon.

In addition, the Legal Aid board has, with the Government's support, proposed a number of other changes to the green form scheme: i) that there should be a new, more detailed, green form claims form to be used by solicitors who are not franchised by the Legal Aid board;

ii) that a solicitor should be required to seek prior authority from the Legal Aid board before giving advice under more than one green form to the same client within any period of 12 months; iii) that the Legal Aid board's powers for dealing with cases where fraud or breaches of the legal aid regulations are suspected should be clarified in regulations.


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The Legal Aid board is at present consulting the Law Society on the details of these changes. Subject to the outcome of that consultation, the necessary regulations to make these changes will be laid before Parliament as soon as possible.

Spencer Stuart Consultants

Mr. Byers: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many contracts his Department or Government agencies responsible to his Department have entered into with Spencer Stuart consultants in last two years.

Mr. John M. Taylor: There is no record of any contract being entered into with Spencer Stuart consultants in the last two years.

Small Claims

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to alter the small claims procedure to enable a plaintiff to recover solicitors' costs from the defendant.

Mr. John M. Taylor: I will write to the hon. Member.

Deaths in Custody

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to extend legal aid to allow the families of those who have died whilst in custody to be represented at inquests.

Mr. John M. Taylor: None. However, subject to financial eligibility, legal advice and assistance may be sought before the hearing from a solicitor under the green form scheme.

ENVIRONMENT

SSSIs

Mr. Elletson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about threats to Britain's sites of special scientific interest.

Mr. Atkins: The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 provides a sound basis for the protection of sites of special scientific interest. Some 6,700 SSSIs have now been notified throughout Britain. This affords protection to the habitats of key species of flora and fauna and to a range of the main geological and landform features. In addition, in the determination of development proposals, the land use planning system takes careful account of nature conservation interests.

Local Government Reorganisation

Mr. Frank Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether all contracts entered into by local authorities, before reorganisation in accordance with Local Government Commission recommendations, will be fully honoured following implementation of Local Government Commission proposals; and whether the rights of employees will be fully protected.

Mr. Curry: Contracts of employment will transfer to the successor authority for all staff who transfer by statutory transfer order or under TUPE regulations. Transfer of rights and liabilities concerning contracts and


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property is currently the subject of consultation by my Department. We are also consulting on the implications of local government reorganisation for compulsory competitive tendering.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the estimated cost to date of the review of local government in England.

Mr. Curry: The Local Government Commission for England incurred expenditure of £2.056 million in 1992 93 and £5.146 million in 1993 94. We are making available grant in aid of some £8.300 million to the Commission for 1994 95.

We do not have overall figures for the expenditure incurred indirectly by central Government, or directly by local authorities, on the local government review.

Capital Receipts

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the amount of capital receipts accumulated by local authorities in England at the latest date for which information is available.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: Returns to the Department show that about £1.9 billion of usable capital receipts were held by authorities at 1 April 1994.

New Home Completions

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many new homes were completed by local authorities in England in 1978 79 and 1993 94; and how many he expects will be completed in 1994 95 and 1995 96.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: Housing associations are now the main providers of new social housing. Local authorities' primary housing tasks are the efficient management of their own stock of housing and enabling other organisations to provide new housing.

Local authorities in England completed 76,494 new dwellings during the financial year 1978 79; new towns completed a further 7,984 dwellings. Local authorities completed 1,387 new dwellings during 1993 94.

The Department does not forecast the number of new dwellings to be built by local authorities.

Departmental Property

Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what properties are owned or leased by his Department for the use of Ministers; what was the total running cost for each property for the latest year available broken down into (a) furniture and fittings, (b) maintenance, (c) staffing, including the number of butlers, cooks and housekeepers, (d) food and hospitality and (e) other costs; what is the estimated value of each property; and how many times in the latest year the property was stayed in overnight by a Minister.

Sir Paul Beresford: Excluding departmental offices, the Department of the Environment does not own or lease any apartments for the use of DOE Ministers.

Dioxins

Ms Armstrong: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if his Department has now had time to consider the United States Environmental Protection Agency's report on dioxins; and what account will be


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taken of the decisions to license the burning of recycled liquid fuel in cement kilns in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Atkins: The US Environmental Protection Agency's report, although both detailed and in parts highly technical, is still a preliminary draft, issued for public comment. It does not represent EPA policy. Its content and findings will be revised during the coming year in the light of comments received. The Government are studying the draft report, and intend to complete their own preliminary assessment of it by the end of this year. The Government will also seek the advice of the chief medical officer about the implications of this report, any decisions taken in the light of this assessment and the advice of the chief medical officer, will apply to all processes which might produce dioxins.

Mr. Ian Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to modify his Department's policy on encouraging waste to energy incinerators following the recent report by the United States Environmental Protection Agency on the health effects of dioxins; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins: The US Environmental Protection Agency's report is a preliminary draft issued for public comment and its contents and findings will be revised during the coming year in the light of comments received. The Government are studying the draft report carefully and intend to complete their own preliminary assessment of it by the end of the year.

In their response to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's report on incineration of waste, the Government have already given a public assurance that, in deciding their policy on the use of incineration for waste disposal, they will take into account the advice of the chief medical officer on the implications of this and other major dioxin studies.

Water Bills

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what was the average household bill for unmetered water and sewerage for each water company for each year since 1985, and the combined average for England and Wales in (a) cash and (b) real terms;

(2) what was the percentage change in average household water and sewerage bills for each water company for each year since 1985, and the combined average change for England and Wales;

(3) what was the change in the average household water and sewerage bill for each water and sewerage company for each year since 1985, and the combined average rise each year for England and Wales in (a) cash and (b) real terms;

(4) what was the change in the average household water and sewerage bill for each water company for each year since 1985, and the combined average change each year for England and Wales in (a) cash and (b) real terms;

(5) what was the average household bill for unmetered water and sewerage for each water and sewerage company for each year since 1985, and the combined average for England and Wales in (a) cash and (b) real terms;

(6) what was the percentage change in average household water and sewerage charges for each water and sewerage company for each year since 1985, and combined average for England and Wales.


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Mr. Atkins: Information on individual water company and water and sewerage company charges since 1985 is contained in "The Water Industry: United Kingdom Services and Cost and Charges for Service", published annually by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, and the "The United Kingdom Water Industry: Charges for Water Services", published annually by the Centre for the Study of Regulated Industries, copies of which are available in the Library.

European Administration

Mr. Ian Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information his Department holds about the introduction of European departments, European officers and offices in Brussels or Strasbourg by district, county and metropolitan councils; and if he will publish this information together with an estimate of the number of people employed and the costs incurred.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: My Department does not hold such information.

Spencer Stuart Consultants

Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many contracts his Department or Government agencies responsible to his Department have entered into with Spencer Stuart consultants in the last two years.

Sir Paul Beresford: To the best of my knowledge, there have been no contracts that this Department, or Government agencies responsible to it, have entered into with Spencer Stuart consultants in the last two years.

Water Supplies

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many and what percentage of households are supplied by each of the water companies;

(2) how many, and what percentage of households are supplied by each of the water and sewerage companies.

Mr. Atkins: Information about the number of households supplied by water companies and water and sewerage companies is to be found in " Waterfacts ", published annually by the Water Services Association, copies of which are available in the Library.

Public Investment Projects

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how much private capital has been invested in public investment projects within his Department's responsibility since the 1992 autumn statement;

(2) if he will list those public investment projects within his Department's responsibility which have attracted private capital and which have been commenced since November 1993.

Sir Paul Beresford: It is not practicable to list individually the very large number of public projects which have benefited from private investment over the last two years. However, the Department and its sponsored bodies attracted some £3 billion of private investment in support of departmental programmes in 1993 94, and similarly expect to lever in over £3 billion of private funding in 1994 95. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment


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announced on 31 October further proposals to make it easier for local authorities to co-operate in joint ventures with the private sector. A summary of the proposals, which we aim to implement with effect from 1 April 1995, has been placed in the Library.

Mrs. Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 31 October, Official Report , column 972-73 , if he will place in the Library the submission made to him on water charging systems by the water services and water companies associations.

Mr. Atkins: It is for the two associations to decide whether they wish to make public the contents of their letter to my right hon. Friend.

Housing (Multiple Occupation)

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will estimate (1) (a) how many hostels exist in England and Wales, (b) how many people live in these hostels and (c) how many of these people are on housing benefits;

(2) how many people live in houses in multiple occupation of the type described in section 345 of the Housing Act 1985; how many of these are on housing benefit; how many of these are students; and how many of these are families with children;

(3) how many houses in multiple occupation are estimated to exist under the present definition contained in section 345 of the Housing Act 1985.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: A Department of the Environment survey of local authorities estimated that in England and Wales in 1983 84 there were between 1.25 and 2 million people living in houses in multiple occupation. There is no information available on how many of these people receive housing benefit or how many are students or families with children.

The definition of a house in multiple occupation in section 345 of the Housing Act 1985, as amended, is wide; it is a house or flat which is occupied by persons who do not form a single household, so there is therefore no simple way of identifying those properties. However, the English house condition survey 1991 estimated the following:


                                  |Number         

--------------------------------------------------

Bedsits                           |75,000         

Sheltered accommodation & hostels |51,000         

Shared houses                     |220,000        

Households with lodgers           |213,000        

                                                  

Total                             |559,000        

The information is not complete, however, as other types of accommodation which could fall within the definition of houses in multiple occupation, such as converted owner-occupied flats and bed and breakfast accommodation, are not included. There is no further specific information about hostels.


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