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Mr. Robert B. Jones: I am still considering the options for longer- term changes to the house renovation grant system following last year's public consultation. We will make an announcement in due course.
Mr. Atkins: We have challenged the packaging industry to devise an industry-led scheme to substantially increase the recovery and recycling of packaging waste by the year 2000. The industry has published its proposals which would lead to a doubling of packaging value recovery levels to nearly 60 per cent. by the year 2000.
Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received about the effects on services in Northumberland of the standard spending assessment and capping systems.
Mr. Curry: Estimates of negative equity vary. Based on Department of the Environment house price data, in the third quarter of 1994 an estimated 644,310 households were affected by negative equity. This is a fall of almost 9 per cent. on the second quarter and is 47 per cent. lower than the peak in the fourth quarter of 1992.
Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 22 November, Official Report, column 66 , if he will provide a regional breakdown of households suffering negative equity and an estimate of the sums involved.
Mr. Robert B Jones: An estimate of the number of households affected by negative equity and the value of negative equity by region based on Department of the Environment house price data, is as follows:
|Number of |households |Value Region |(thousands)|(millions) ------------------------------------------------------------- South East |346 |-1713 Greater London |80 |-248 South West |115 |-376 East Anglia |51 |-237 East Midlands |11 |-16 West Midlands |11 |-14 Wales |4 |-3 Yorkshire and Humberside |17 |-16 North West |7 |-3 North |1 |- Scotland |- |- Northern Ireland |1 |-1 United Kingdom |644 |-2,628
Mr. Fisher: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what consultations he has had on the effect of local government reorganisation on the funding of arts, museums and libraries by local authorities.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: The Local Government Commission consults bodies connected with the arts, museums and library services before making recommendations for the structure of local government. We allow time to receive and consider representations from interested parties on those recommendations before taking decisions on them. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for National Heritage is consulting representatives of the local authority associations and expert bodies in these fields with a view to issuing guidance, where necessary, to new authorities.
Sir Paul Beresford: We have ensured that the National Rivers Authority has the powers and the resources to maintain and improve the quality of our rivers. Around 90 per cent. of rivers in England and Wales are of good or fair quality.
Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has about the main sources of (a) pesticides and (b) phosphates in the water supply, given in order of importance with the percentage contribution made by each source.
Mr. Atkins: The pesticides most frequently detected in supplies are atrazine, simazine, diuron, isoproturon, mecoprop and chlorotoluron. The first three were mainly used for weed control in non-agricultural situations such as roads, railways and on other hard surfaces. However,
Column 727the approvals for the use of atrazine and simazine in these situations were withdrawn in August 1993. The other three pesticides are almost exclusively used for weed control in cereals. While concentrations of individual pesticides in drinking water sometimes exceed the legal requirement of 0.1 g/litre, there is no evidence that any of these contraventions was of such a magnitude or duration as to endanger the health of consumers. Investment is in hand to deal with these exceedances.
Phosphates can be found in water supplies derived from surface water sources; groundwater sources usually contain insignificant levels. Phosphates originate mainly from sewage effluents, industrial effluents or from agricultural run-off from inorganic fertilisers. Figures for the percentage contribution for pesticides and phosphates from each source are not available as the respective amounts vary between rural and urban environments and between ground water and surface water sources and at different times of the year.
Mr. Atkins: Information is not available in the form requested. However I understand that capital expenditure by water companies in England and Wales on new treatment to remove pesticides from water put into supply was £122 million in 1992 93 and that in 1993 94 and 1994 95 companies were planning to spend £170 million and £207 million respectively. There is not normally a requirement to remove phosphate from water before it is put into supply as drinking water.
Mr. Brandreth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what changes are to be made to the scheme of fees and charges for integrated pollution control operated by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution.
Mr. Atkin: Minor changes to the HMIP Integrated Pollution Control Fees and Charges Scheme 1994 95 take effect from 1 December 1994. They are consequent upon changes in the governing legislation made by Statutory Instruments Nos. 1271--The Environmental Protection (Prescribed Processes and Substances etc.) (Amendment) Regulations 1994, and 1329--The Environmental Protection (Prescribed Processes and Substances etc.) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 1994. Copies of the amendment to the scheme are being placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what response he has made to each recommendation proposed by the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux in its document entitled "Taxing
Column 728Times, CAB Evidence on the Council Tax", dated September 1994.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Local Government, Housing and Urban Regeneration wrote to the chief executive of the national association on 17 October responding to each recommendation which relates to the policy and legislative framework of the council tax. A copy of his letter has been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Atkins: Many measures are already in place to reduce emissions of pollutants into the air. These include catalytic converters, which have been required on all cars since the end of 1992. As a result, the risk of episodes of high pollution is expected to decrease over the next few years. In March, the Government published a consultation paper, "Improving Air Quality", which initiated wide-ranging and constructive debate. The Government intend to publish then proposals shortly.
Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress he has made towards achieving a comprehensive network of women's refuge provision; what was the outcome of the consideration by Ministers of the need for improved co-ordination of refuge provision; what information he has about local authorities without a refuge in their area; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: The provision of women's refuge is best decided by local authorities and other agencies taking into account issues such as the local supply of housing available for short-term use in emergency situations. The ministerial group on domestic violence met on 17 May and discussed, among other issues, the need for a centrally co-ordinated policy on refuge provision. The Group agreed to consider this further at its next meeting.
The Department does not hold information about the number of local authorities without a refuge in their area.
Sir Paul Beresford: Officials have been asked to investigate the feasibility of publishing a range of departmental information through Internet. No firm decision has yet been taken by the Department to use this service.
Column 729whether or not to publish it and whether to place a copy in the House Library.
Mrs. Bridget Prentice: 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; and what the figure was for 1978 79.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: I refer the hon. Member to the reply that right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment gave to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfed Morris) on 29 November 1994.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Following a reorganisation of sponsorship activities last year, my Department has undertaken, and is continuing to undertake, an enhanced range of activities to encourage the success and competitiveness of the construction industry both at home and overseas.
Consultation arrangements between the Department and the industry, comprising twice-yearly meetings between the Secretary of State for the Environment and senior industry representatives on strategic issues; regular briefing meetings between the industry
representatives and Ministers on specific construction-related topics, thus enabling Ministers to hear industry's views and concerns at first hand; meetings of a consultative group set up to discuss current issues and concerns at official level; a consultative committee on construction industry statistics set up to discuss initiatives on the provision of statistical and market intelligence information; and the publication of "Construction Monitor", a monthly newsletter published with Building magazine, containing European, United Kingdom and statistical information.
Sponsorship activities, including helping to take forward the implementation of the Latham Report into the construction industry's procurement and contractual arrangements; progressing the practical implementation of the Construction Products Directive; the establishment with the industry of the Construction Procurement Group which aims to help reduce the United Kingdom's excessive trade deficit in construction products; the launch of a Construction Benchmarking Challenge which is providing financial assistance towards the establishment of four benchmarking clubs; carrying out strategic analyses of specific sectors of the industry to identify ways of improving Government support; proposals to promote prompt payment arrangements in Government construction contracts through use of standard contract conditions; provision of an improved range of statistics and other information to help industry decision makers; policy opposition to the use of on-demand bonds; and proposals to reform the Architects' Registration Acts to simplify the current system.
Research and Innovation initiatives, including the establishment of a whole industry research strategy group
Column 730to develop a joint Government industry strategy for research and innovation; establishment of a construction industry panel under the Government's Technology Foresight programme; increasing the proportion of total research and development spend allocated to collaborative projects funded jointly with industry; the launch of the construction industry European research club with strong DoE encouragement to help the United Kingdom construction industry to increase its participation in European research, and gain increased access to funding; the launch of the LINK/IDAC integration in design and construction programme to encourage improvements in the quality and competitiveness of the United Kingdom construction industry through academic/industry research into the construction process; and support for the Construction Quality Forum which seeks to improve quality in construction through information exchange.
Export Services , including carrying out six trade missions in 1994, the setting up of a number of building material task forces; the production of a new video to promote the British construction industry around the world; and the organisation of inward visits by overseas clients.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Ealing council reported a deficit in reserves of £12,000 at 1 April 1990 and a surplus in reserves at 1 April 1994 of £40,891,000 (or £43,682,000 including those earmarked for local management of schools).
Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many bids under the single regeneration budget have been received by his Department; and what is the amount of money that is to be allocated.
Mr. Curry: A total of 469 bids were received by Government offices in the regions for funding from the single regeneration budget. A total of £125 million will be allocated to bidders in respect of successful projects in 1995 96, subject to satisfactory performance.
Mr. Hardy: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what payment will be made to support small businesses under the single regeneration budget in 1995 96; and what is the percentage difference from the provision made for this purpose in the current year.
Mr. Curry: Support for small businesses is one of the priorities of the single regeneration budget and commitments from constituents programmes, including the business start-up scheme and regional enterprise grant, will continue to be honoured in 1995 96. The overall level of resources given to support small businesses in 1995 96 will depend upon the outcome of the first bidding round.
Column 731households likely to lose their home through repossession for mortgage arrears in the next 12 months.
The latest available figures on mortgage possessions were published by the Council for Mortgage Lenders in July. These showed that in the first half of 1994, 25,020 properties were taken into possession by mortgage lenders, representing 0.24 per cent. of all mortgaged properties. This compared with 31,780 in the first half of 1993, and 26,760 in the second half of 1993.
The figures for the second half of 1994 and 1994 as a whole will be published by the CML on Wednesday 25 January 1995.
Mr. Atkins: The period for consultation on the Advisory Group's recommendations ended on 14 October and we have been considering the comments made. The Government's response to the advisory group will be made in due course.
Column 732authority rents for each London borough for the financial years 1988 89 to 1994 95, expressed in constant prices. Information for earlier years could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Sir Paul Beresford: I am pleased to announce that, following a tender competition, contractors have been selected to manage the 20 new safer cities projects which my right hon. Friend the then Minister for Housing, Inner Cities and Construction announced on 15 July 1994.
After careful evaluation of the tenders, three organisations have been chosen to run the projects: Crime Concern, the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders and the Society of Voluntary Associates. All three organisations have significant experience in crime prevention, project management, and working with voluntary agencies.
Crime Concern will manage projects in Bolton, Hackney, Kensington and Chelsea, Portsmouth, Southwark and Westminster.
NACRO will manage projects in Bournemouth, Brighton, Easington, Great Grimsby, Merseyside, Norwich, Oxford, Sandwell, Scunthorpe, Wansbeck and York.
SOVA will manage projects in Camden, Lincoln and Newham. We expect preliminary work to begin December, and projects will start to come on stream early in the new year.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will announce targets for the reduction of Government Departments' empty residential property; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: In response to the report of the task force on Government Departments' empty houses, the Government undertook to monitor empty residential property owned by Departments and to set annual targets. Targets for reduction in 1994 95 are set out in the table.
|Target for |reduction of |number of |Empty as |empty properties |Total stock at |Empty at |percentage of |held at |1 April 1994 |1 April 1994 |total stock |1 April 1994<1> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Department of Transport |3,845 |887 |23 |484 Home Office |4,524<2> |498 |11 |335 Ministry of Defence |68,106 |11,006 |16 |3,550<3> Department of Health |15,000<4> |1,800<5> |12 |700 Scottish Office |1,601<6> |158 |10 |60 Welsh Office |239 |43<7> |18 |37 Notes: <1> Includes properties to be sold, leased or reoccupied. <2> Excludes figures for the provincial police authorities. <3> Targets relate to stock figures at 1 April 1994. More properties will become empty during the year as others are occupied or disposed of. <4> Most up-to-date figures available are as at 31 December 1992. <5> Excludes bed-spaces in hostels. <6> NHS figures included in the stock are as at 1 April 1993. <7> Excludes properties awaiting demolition or conversion to non-residential use.
We will monitor performance and publish achievement against these targets at the end of the financial year.
My Department will shortly issue revised guidance for Government Departments on how to secure better use of their empty residential property. This will reflect the recommendations made by the task force. The Welsh Office will issue similar guidance separately. Notes
1. Includes properties to be sold, leased or reoccupied. 2. Excludes figures for the provincial police authorities. 3. Targets relate to stock figures at 1 April 1994. More properties will become empty during the year as others are occupied or disposed of.
4. Most up-to-date figures available are as at 31 December 1992. 5. Excludes bed-spaces in hostels.
6. NHS figures included in the stock are as at 1 April 1993. 7. Excludes properties awaiting demolition or conversion to non-residential use.
Mr. Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list those countryside stewardship scheme sites which have been withdrawn from the scheme for allowing additional public access, the grounds on which each decision was taken, the date when payments ceased and whether the Government will seek repayment of moneys already spent for which the contracted services or public access was not satisfactorily delivered.
Mr. Atkins [holding answer 23 November 1994]: Information about countryside stewardship agreements with access elements, which have been either terminated or amended through the removal of the access element, is given below. There are various reasons for the termination or amendment of agreements, including the sale of the property, the death or bankruptcy of the scheme participant, or non-compliance with the conditions of the agreement. Payments under the scheme are made annually in arrears and in eight cases payments had not been made before the agreements came to an end or were amended. In other cases, payments were withdrawn. In no case was repayment of grant required. The management of the scheme, including the negotiation of agreements with scheme participants, is a matter for the Countryside Commission.
|Number of |agreements |terminated or |Year of |where access Region |agreement |element removed ------------------------------------------------------------------------- South West |1991 |5 |1992 |2 Eastern |1991 |2 |1992 |1 |1993 |1 North West |1992 |1 Midland |1991 |5 |1992 |2 Yorkshire and Humberside |1991 |1 South East |1991 |4 Northern |1991 |1
Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if she will list the management allowances payments made to general practitioner fund- holding practices and practices preparing to be fundholders (a) by value and (b) in total for each (i) family health services authority and (ii) region.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The information requested is given in the table. GP fundholding has delivered many improvements in quality of care for patients. The costs of the management allowance--at about 2 per cent. of budgets set presents excellent value for money. These figures are only available for those years for which audited health board accounts have been completed.
|1990-91 |1991-92 |1992-93 Health Board |£000 |£000 |£000 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Argyll and Clyde |16 |59 |134 Ayrshire and Arran |- |- |77 Borders |- |- |26 Dumfries and Galloway |- |- |- Fife |- |27 |36 Forth Valley |- |23 |86 Grampian |- |85 |539 Greater Glasgow |- |35 |90 Highland |- |- |32 Lanarkshire |- |- |178 Lothian |16 |33 |119 Orkney |- |- |- Shetland |- |- |- Tayside |5 |44 |193 Western Isle |- |- |- Scotland | 37 | 306 |1,510 (1) The expenditure includes both revenue and capital components.
Mr. Charles Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on progress towards the implementation of agricultural measures under Highlands and Islands objective 1 status, following his Department's consultation process which ended on 31 May; if he will indicate the number and range of responses received; and if he will make a statement.
Sir Hector Monro: The Department received 17 responses earlier this year to its consultation paper on the proposed Highlands and Islands Agricultural Programme from local authorities, agricultural and wildlife organisations, and a range of other public and private bodies. Most of the responses broadly welcomed the proposals. The Highlands and Islands agricultural programme, modified in the light of comments received and discussions with the European Commission, was approved for European Community funding on 29 July. The approved programme has three elements: the agricultural business improvement scheme, which is expected to open for applications towards the end of December; the crofting township development scheme, which should start next January; and the marketing scheme, which should come into operation next spring.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the rough estimate of the cost of adapting the Health Care International hospital for use as an NHS hospital, referred to in his answer of 31 October, Official Report , column 964 .
Salaries for special advisers are negotiated individually in relation to their previous earnings, and are confidential. They are, however, normally paid on a special advisers' salary spine of 34 points, which starts at £19,503. Appointments are non-pensionable, and the salary spine reflects this.
Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will consider extending the amendment of the definition of residential occupier in terms of section 22(5) of the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984, in relation to any premises to a person occupying such premises and willing to make payment of a rental in respect thereof who has been denied security of tenure by his or her landlord for the express object of eviction.
Mr. Michael J. Martin: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what is the most recent deficit of Glasgow North Ltd.; (2) how many staff are currently employed by Glasgow North Ltd.; and if he will place a list of their grades in the Library; (3) what amounts have been given to date in interest free loans to the staff of Glasgow North Ltd.;
(4) how many senior officials of Glasgow North Ltd. resigned in the last two weeks;
(5) how many visits (a) to the United States of America and (b) elsewhere abroad representatives of Glasgow North Ltd. made in the past two years; and what was the cost per person and duration of such trips.