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Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his estimate of the number of appeals outstanding against the 1988 uniform business rate valuation; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: At the end of September, there were around 235,000 1990 non-domestic rating appeals outstanding with valuation tribunals in England, the vast majority of which were made after the initial appeal period to reflect changes in material circumstances.
Mr. Atkins: Proposed changes to the regulatory responsibilities of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food were contained in paragraph 194 of the Department's consultation paper "Review of Radioactive Waste Management Policy: Preliminary Conclusions",
Column 646published in August. Copies were placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Atkins: A recent press release by Greenpeace listed 37 landfill sites which are, or have in the past, received low-level radioactive waste for disposal by controlled burial. Ten of these sites are in Scotland and the information relating to Scotland is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution currently monitors and publicly reports upon the remaining 27 sites in England and Wales. A number of these sites are now closed or do not now receive radioactive waste for disposal. The sites which are specified in the authorisations issued under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993, and which currently receive such waste are listed
Milton Landfill, Cambridge
Cowpen Bewley Tip, Cleveland
Waste Ponds, Walney Island, Cumbria
Hilts Quarry, Derbyshire
Magnesium Elktron site, Greater Manchester
Cilgwyn Quarry, Gwynedd
Braziers Landfill, Hertfordshire
SCM Chemicals site, Humberside
Clifton Marsh, Lancashire
Sefton Meadows Tip, Merseyside
Beighton Tip, South Yorkshire
Beddingham Quarry, Sussex
Four of these 12 sites receive low-level radioactive waste from premises licensed under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965, and which are local to the site of burial. The remaining sites receive waste generated by activities which are not a part of the nuclear industry, most commonly hospitals and universities.
Authority to make controlled burials is granted only after a comprehensive assessment of waste producer's application and of the site it proposes. There are no outstanding applications for authorisation to make controlled burials of waste generated at nuclear sites, or for additional producers of waste to make consignments to sites currently used by others.
Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what consideration has been given to (a) dry storage at the site of production and (b) other alternative methods of dumping of radioactive nuclear waste.
Mr. Atkins: A consultation document containing the preliminary conclusions of the Government's review of radioactive waste management policy was published in August and copies placed in the Library of the House. The responses are now being considered and a statement of future policy will be made in due course.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, what responses his Department has received to the consultation document "Review of Radioactive Waste Management Policy: Preliminary Conclusions", published on 5 August 1994.
Mr. Atkins: The Department has received more than 250 responses to the consultation document. A list of these has been placed in the Library of the House and copies of individual responses may be obtained through the Library. In addition, we have received over 5, 000 letters from members of the public following campaigns by Greenpeace. All the points raised are receiving careful consideration.
Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he is taking to encourage local authorities to make use of injunctions and civil actions to deal with anti-social tenants in council housing.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: The Government encourage local authorities to develop a variety of strategies and practices to deal with anti-social behaviour, which include the use of injunctions and other appropriate remedies.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Local authorities have powers under the Housing Act 1985 to evict anti-social tenants. Breaking tenancy agreements and causing a nuisance to neighbours are among the grounds for taking repossession action.
Sir Paul Beresford: It is an immediate offence, under section 224 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and regulation 27 of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992, to display an advertisement without the prior consent of the owner of the land, or premises, on which it is displayed. The maximum penalty on summary conviction of this offence is £1,000 with a daily penalty of £100 for a continuing offence. Paragraphs 51 and 52 of the annex to Department of the Environment circular 5/92 advise local planning authorities on effective prosecution procedures for fly posting.
Sir Paul Beresford: The most recent information is contained in a paper by Tom Milliken of TRAFFIC East/South Africa, prepared for the meeting organised by the United Kingdom on behalf of the European Community and held in Kasane, Botswana from 19 to 23 September 1994. He estimates that the total volume of raw ivory held in the African range states is of the order of 500 tonnes. There is no quantified information on stockpiles of other elephant products, although South Africa does hold a stockpile of elephant hides. Copies of the report of the Kasane meeting and the background paper mentioned are in the Library.
Sir Paul Beresford: The provision of public services in Greater London and its government is carried out by central Government Departments, centrally appointed bodies, the 32 London boroughs and the corporation of the City of London, and London-wide local government bodies. The authority for these bodies' responsibilities is conferred by legislation.
Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 22 November, Official Report , column 70 , what rules apply to prevent possible conflicts of interest in cases where serving officials in his Department have held directorships in companies as part of the staff development programme involving contact between Whitehall and business.
Mr. Robert B Jones: Officials are not nominated for non-executive directorships of companies whose sector of business is the concern of their management or policy responsibilities in the Department. If they are posted to new official duties which create such a conflict of interest, they resign the directorship. In common with all members of staff, officials holding non-executive directorships are required to observe the Department's rules of conduct governing the use of official information and experience, and the avoidance of conflicts of interest or the appearance of such conflicts; in particular, they should as directors declare an interest and withdraw from discussion of any dealings between the company concerned and the Department, and within the Department they should declare an interest and withdraw from any involvement in official business involving that company. In order to avoid personal financial interest officials do not receive fees for their directorships; in cases where fees are payable, they are surrendered to the Exchequer.
Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 22 November 1994, Official Report , column 70 , what considerations underlay the decision not to keep records of the public limited companies to which he refers.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: The corporate status of the host organisation has not been relevant to the staff development objectives of non-executive directorships, which have been held in a variety of organisations, some not being companies. However, in all cases the same rules governing the avoidance of conflicts of interest have applied.
Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what consideration he gives to local authority unitary development plans when he arbitrates on planning permission appeals in respect of the turning down by local authorities of applications to develop open-cast mining sites; and if he will make a statement.
Sir Paul Beresford: If the development plan is relevant, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State must determine the appeal in accordance with the plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. This is a statutory duty under section 54A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the operation of which is explained in planning policy guidance note 1, "General Policy and Principles", a copy of which is held in the Library.
Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his estimate of the total output of rented homes by housing associations and local authorities in the current year; what was the figure for 1978 79; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Housing associations are now the main providers of new social housing. Local authorities primary housing tasks are now the efficient management of their own stock of housing and enabling other organisations to provide new housing. In England during 1978 79 local authorities completed 76,500 dwellings and new towns completed a further 8,000 new dwellings; during 1993 94 local authorities completed 1,400 new dwellings and by 1994 95 we expect this may have fallen to less than 1,000.
Housing associations provide additional rented homes through new build and through rehabilitation. In England during 1978 79 they provided some 33,600 new rented homes in this way. We currently forecast that in 1994 95 housing associations will provide 41,800 new rented homes through the Housing Corporation's approved development programme. We also estimate that local authority supported housing association activity will provide in the region of 10,000 new homes in 1994 95.
In addition, the cash incentive scheme for local authority tenants; the tenants incentive scheme, for housing association tenants; and the 60 per cent of do-it-yourself shared ownership help social sector tenants to become owner-occupiers and so free up existing properties for re-letting to new tenants. These schemes were not in existence in 1978 79. We currently estimate that in 1994 95 some 13,000 new housing association and local authority lettings will be provided in this way.
Column 650(2) if he has decided the details of the transitional arrangements to phase in the effects of the 1995 revaluation; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer: The 1995 revaluation will not lead to any significant change in overall rateable value in England. We therefore propose to set the poundage for England next year at 43.2p, in line with the increase in the retail prices index in the year to September 1994. However, the revaluation will result in significant local and sectoral shifts in rateable values. My Department's consultation paper, published last month, outlined proposals for transitional arrangements to phase in the effects of these shifts on rate bills. In the light of responses to that paper, and the generous package of support announced by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor today, I now propose that no business will face year on year increases of more than 10 per cent., after allowing for inflation. For property with a new rateable value of less than £10,000-- £15,000 in London--the maximum real increase will be 7.5 per cent., while for many small shops combined with living accommodation, the corresponding limit will be 5 per cent.
We estimate that nearly 1 million smaller properties and 250,000 million larger properties in England will benefit from relief. One third of beneficiaries will be shops. A further 170,000 properties will see reductions in their bills as a result of the revaluation. I am sure this will be widely welcomed by the business community. The Exchequer contribution will cover part of the cost of the scheme. The remaining element will be met by limiting real reductions in rates bills, as proposed in the consultation paper. For 1995 96, the limits will be 10 per cent. for small properties and 5 per cent. for large ones.
Other details of the scheme will be as proposed in the consultation paper. Regulations giving effect to these changes will be laid before Parliament shortly.
Mr. Merchant: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are his proposals for the appropriate level of aggregate local authority spending in 1995 96, and the level of central support for that spending.
Mr. Gummer: I propose that total standard spending for 1995 96 should be £43.51 billion for England. This represents an increase of £930 million--2.2 per cent.--compared with this year's figure, including the amount for transitional community care special grant and provision for local government reorganisation transitional costs. Excluding community care and reorganisation, this still represents a cash increase of 0.8 per cent.
I propose that the level of aggregate external finance distributed to local authorities in 1995 96 should be £34.67 billion. This represents an increase of £430 million--1.2 per cent.--compared with this year's figure, including community care. Net of community care, this represents a cash decrease of 0.4 per cent.
I also propose that the national non-domestic rate poundage for 1995 96 in England should rise to 43.2p, reflecting this year's revaluation and the annual increase in the retail prices index to September. This will ensure that the benefit of the government's success in tackling inflation will once again be passed on in full to businesses.
Column 651I propose to set the distributable amount of non-domestic rates at £11.35 billion. I propose that the total of revenue support grant should be £18.32 billion. Special and specific grants within AEF will amount to £5 billion.
I shall announce shortly my proposals for the distribution of Government grants, including my proposals for changes in the standard spending assessment methodology. At the same time, I shall announce my capping intentions. I shall also set out my proposals for the third year of the scheme of transitional assistance to those households which faced particularly significant increases in their local tax bills following the introduction of the council tax. It is essential that local and central Government continue to play their part in restraining expenditure. Our overriding priority is to reduce the public sector deficit. My proposals for total standard spending, aggregate external finance and the non- domestic rate poundage represent a balanced approach to the funding of local authority services in 1995 96. I look to local authorities to take the same responsible attitude in determining their spending priorities and setting their budgets in 1995 96. However, in the context of a tough settlement, I am confident that with efficient housekeeping and efficient collection of the council tax, these proposals will allow local authorities to maintain their current levels of spending and carry out their functions.
Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what employment consultants were engaged between 1 January 1990 and 30 April 1992 by his Department or organisations responsible to it; for what posts; and when these posts were filled.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: This information is not available centrally for non-departmental posts, and could not be assembled without disproportionate cost. Within the Department, the consultants used, posts to be filled and dates are as follows:
Douglas Llambias Associates
Chief Executive, The Buying Agency; filled 31 October 1991; Goddard Kay Rogers Associates Ltd.
Chief Economist, Department of the Environment; filled 3 February 1992;
Chief Executive, the Planning Inspectorate; filled 1 January 1992;
NB Selection Ltd.
Chief Executive, Royal Parks agency; filled 16 March 1992. Responsibility for this agency subsequently transferred to the Department of National Heritage.
Saxton Bampflyde International plc
Director, Property Holdings; filled 10 December 1990. Director and Chief Inspector, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of pollution; filled 1 May 1991. Chief Executive, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre; filled 16 March 1992.
Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the contractual price agreed between the London residuary body and the Shirayama Corporation for the scale of the riverside building in the country hall complex; and how much of the sale price has now been received by the London residuary body.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: The terms of the sale--including the sale price --of the riverside building of county hall were a matter of commercial confidentiality between the London residuary body and the purchaser. Some £50 million of the purchase price was distributed by the LRB to the London boroughs in proportion to the total populations of each borough in accordance with the London Government Reorganisation (Capital Money)(Greater London) (Amendment) Order 1993.
Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects the remaining parts of the County hall complex to be sold; what is the estimated value of the unsold parts; and how much has been spent by the London residuary body in marketing the site.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: The London residuary body has announced that the sale of the remainder of the county hall site is to be completed on 29 March 1995 and that the agreed purchase price is £17.5 million. The cost of marketing the site is a matter for the LRB.
Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment to which property or properties the £10 million deferred capital receipt appearing in the London residuary body accounts for 1993 94 relates; and when he expects the receipt to be available for distribution to the London boroughs.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what is the current value of domestic and other properties acquired by the British Railways Board in pursuance of the building of a high-speed railway line between London and Dolland's Moor, broken down by (a) present market valuations, (b) cost of purchase and (c) present written down value in the books of (i) the British Railways Board, (ii) European Passenger Services Ltd. and (iii) any other public sector body;
(2) how many properties were acquired by the British Railways Board in each borough or district along the route of the proposed high-speed railway line between London and Dolland's Moor; what was the cost of these acquisitions; how many properties have been subsequently disposed of and at what value; and what was the cost of the properties so disposed of.
Mr. Watts: All properties acquired in advance of need for the present channel tunnel rail link have been purchased by Union Railways, an agency company wholly owned by the British Railways Board. The present
Column 653market value and present book value is £13.9 million. Total purchase cost, including home loss and disturbance payments, where appropriate, was £38.8 million. The cost and number of these purchases by local authority area is:
Local authority |Cost (£ million)|Number ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Shepway |6.1 |42 Ashford |16.7 |111 Maidstone |9.6 |54 Tonbridge and Malling |0.3 |2 Camden |6.1 |2 None of these properties has been sold.
Mr. Norris: Orange badges are valid throughout England, Scotland and Wales, except in the City of London, the city of Westminster, the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea and a part of the London borough of Camden. Badges are also accepted under a similar parking scheme operating in Northern Ireland. In addition, access to certain town centres may be prohibited or limited to vehicles with special permits in addition to the orange badge.
Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration his Department has given to the introduction of a legal requirement that the large goods vehicle test be carried out on a fully laden vehicle.
Mr. Norris: We have considered the possibility of requiring large goods vehicles to be tested fully laden, most recently in the context of the initiative to facilitate a significant expansion of the arrangements for on-site testing by Vehicle Inspectorate staff at operators' own premises. We have concluded that this would impose an unnecessary cost burden on the road haulage industry.
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