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report, edited to omit commercially sensitive information, has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. It is customary to review the status and performance of all agencies, as a matter of course, three years after their establishment. I am satisfied that the Patent Office has performed well during this period. It is meeting the legitimate expectations of users and improvements in quality of service were recognised by the award of a charter mark in 1993. Since relocation to Newport, Gwent, in 1991, the office has also reduced its cost base by about £7 million per annum, it has become a trading fund, and it has introduced a range of commercial disciplines. These will all contribute to securing its long-term future.

I have considered whether the Patent Office should be privatised and believe that this should remain an option for the longer term. I have also looked at the scope for large-scale contractorisation. But the nature and extent of the Patent Office's statutory functions would require special arrangements in this case to safeguard their proper exercise, and so render this option less attractive. I have therefore decided to confirm the status of the Patent Office as an executive agency. I will be setting new targets to take effect from 1 April 1995 which will require the Patent Office to continue its drive to improve efficiency and quality of service and these will encourage the Patent Office to contract out activities wherever this is compatible with its statutory role and good value for money. The aim is for the Patent Office to continue to provide a first rate service to its users. The office is a valuable asset in terms of its information resource and analytical expertise, and I will also support its endeavours to work with private sector partners to seek out new business opportunities both in the United Kingdom and overseas. Experience of the development of such partnerships as well as all options for ownership and delivery of service will be re-examined in any future review.

Postal Services

Mr. Trend: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will give details of responses to the Government Green Paper, "The Future of Postal Services".

Mr. Eggar: By the end of the consultation period on 30 September, there had been some 13,400 responses to the Green Paper. A further 2, 000 responses were received after 30 September.

Responses fell into two categories. The first category came from individual members of the public and local organisations and tended to be short responses on the principle of privatisation. The second category--some 50 responses in all--came from organisations with more specific interests in the future of postal services, including representatives of users, competitors and postal employees. Of the first category, over half of responses were pre-printed postcards or short standard form letters issued by organisations opposed to the Government's proposals. Among the significant majority of letters there was confusion as to the detail of what the Government were proposing and little acknowledgement of the safeguards proposed in the Green Paper.

The second category of more detailed responses was more difficult to summarise. Many of them took the form of lengthy documents analysing the options and other


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points of detail, with a wide variety of views being expressed. There was, however, an overall majority in this category in favour of privatisation of the Royal Mail and Parcelforce.

Special Advisers

Mr. Milburn: To ask the President of the Board of Trade which of the special advisers serving in his Department during the last five years were subject to positive security vetting.

Mr. Heseltine [holding answer 13 December 1994]: All special advisers are currently required to have positive vetting.

Consultancy Assistance Scheme

Mr. Pendry: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the companies in the north-west which benefited from the marketing initiative under the


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consultancy assistance scheme of the now defunct enterprise initiative.

Mr. Ian Taylor [holding answer 12 December 1994]: The take-up of the consultancy initiative by north-west companies, and their satisfaction with the scheme, were amongst the highest in the country. Since it started in January 1988, over 19,000 north-west companies have benefitted from the consultancy initiative. More than 3,500 companies chose the marketing option, although their names cannot be revealed for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

Ian Greer Associates

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the President of the Board of Trade on how many occasions departmental officials met representatives of Ian Greer Associates in the last month to discuss matters relating to their client's interests.

Mr. Heseltine [holding answer 12 December 1994]: This information is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.


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ENVIRONMENT

European Charter of Self-government

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when the Government will sign the European charter of self-government; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: The Government have no plans to sign the European charter of local self-government. Local government is not suitable for regulation by international convention.

Hares

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate he has made of the population of hares in the United Kingdom in the period from 1979 to date.

Mr. Atkins: The Government-funded national hare survey, carried out during the winters of 1991 92 and 1992 93 estimated the British population to be somewhere between 680,000 and 954,000. There are no figures available for Northern Ireland.

Negative Equity

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many home buyers who took out a mortgage in (a) 1988, (b) 1989, (c) 1990 and (d) 1991 are now experiencing negative equity in each region.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: An estimate of the number of home buyers who took out a mortgage in each of the years 1988 to 1991, still affected by negative equity, by region, based on Department of the Environment house price data is as follows:


(thousands)                                                       

Region               |1988    |1989    |1990    |1991             

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

South East           |73.5    |105.0   |94.9    |65.8             

Greater London       |18.2    |24.8    |24.4    |11.3             

South West           |20.7    |36.6    |33.5    |18.3             

East Anglia          |10.1    |18.7    |11.7    |6.6              

East Midlands        |-       |3.6     |3.1     |3.5              

West Midlands        |-       |0.8     |3.8     |1.5              

Wales                |-       |-       |-       |2.9              

Yorks and Humberside |-       |-       |-       |6.3              

North West           |-       |-       |-       |-                

North                |-       |-       |-       |-                

Scotland             |-       |-       |-       |-                

Northern Ireland     |-       |-       |-       |-                

                     |--------|--------|--------|--------         

United Kingdom       |122.5   |189.5   |171.4   |116.3            

Greenhouse Gases

Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the effect of levying value added tax on standing charges for fuel on the United Kingdom's emissions of greenhouse gases.

Mr. Atkins: The introduction of VAT on domestic fuel and power at the standard rate was expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 millions tonnes of carbon per annum. The effect on emissions of levying VAT on standing charges has not been separately assessed.


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Water

Mr. Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to promote competition in the water industry.

Mr. Atkins: We are keen to encourage competition wherever it is appropriate and the Competition and Service (Utilities) Act 1992 introduced a number of measures to facilitate it in the case of water.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Robert Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the present amount of accumulated debt of each of the district authorities in England.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: I have placed the information requested about the amount of accumulated debt of each of the district councils in England in the Library of the House.

Going for Green" Committee

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the number of meetings held, the secretarial and advisory arrangements, the budgeted and actual expenditure and the subjects of any reports and submissions produced by the "Going for Green" committee since its inception.

Mr. Atkins: The Government panel on sustainable development has met four times since it was established in January 1994. It intends to produce its first report early in 1995. Administrative support for the panel is provided by staff seconded to the Cabinet Office. Panel members receive expenses only.

Energy Efficiency Scheme

Ms Lynne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proportion of the budget of the home energy efficiency scheme is spent promoting the scheme to those eligible for funding under the scheme.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: Some £500,000--about 0.7 per cent. of the total budget of the home energy efficiency scheme--is being spent in the current financial year on promotion. Current demand for the scheme indicates that knowledge of its existence is widespread, and that this level of promotion is both appropriate and consistent with the need to ensure that the available funds are used, as far as possible, to pay grants.

Housing

Mr. Hinchcliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the impact of the proposed reduction in housing association investment on the number of homes available for rent.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: Housing associations can provide homes for rent through the Housing Corporation's approved development programme in two ways: new homes for rent funded by the rental programme; and lettings freed up by the corporation's home ownership initiatives which are targeted at existing public sector tenants. The Housing Corporation estimates that through


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these programmes it will be able to provide over 46,000 new rented lettings in 1995 96. This compares with the estimate of 43,500 new rented lettings in 1995 96 published in December 1993.

Radioactive Waste

Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) when he expects the radioactive waste management advisory committee to publish its 20 year review;

(2) when he expects the radioactive waste management advisory committee and advisory committee on the safety of muclear installations to publish their joint report on site selection and safety criteria for the deep disposal of radioactive waste.

Mr. Atkins: The reports, which I have not yet received, will be published in due course.

Housing Corporation

Mr. Nigel Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the forthcoming finance, management and policy review of the Housing Corporation.

Mr. Curry: As part of the Government's programme of regular five- yearly finance, management and policy reviews of

non-departmental public bodies my Department will conduct a thorough review of the Housing Corporation beginning on 3 January 1995. The first stage of the review will take the form of a prior options study. This will assess the extent to which the corporation's functions are necessary for the achievement of the Government's policies, and whether there is scope for privatising, contracting out, or transferring all or part of its functions to another body. The study will take into account Government's continuing support for a programme of new lettings at subsidised rents delivered through housing associations.

The progress made by the corporation since the previous review in 1990 will be examined and the results of that examination and of the prior options study will inform a detailed review of the corporation's policy and financial management systems.

To minimise the uncertainty the prior options study will cause, I expect that study to be completed within four months. The time required for the more detailed review cannot be foreseen, but I would expect it to last no longer than eight months.

In carrying out the study my Department will consult widely with housing organisations and others with an interest in the corporation's work.

Research

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what sum was spent by his Department on research in each of the last 10 years; what percentage this was of the total annual budget; what is the research budget for the forthcoming year; what percentage this is of his total budget; and what additional new research is to be undertaken.

Sir Paul Beresford [holding answer 13 December 1994]: Expenditure by the Department of the Environment on research and development in each of the


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last 10 years in £ millions and as a percentage of the total annual budget, is presented below:


                              |Percentage of                

                              |total annual                 

Years          |Research spend|budget                       

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

1985-86        |39.6          |0.198                        

1986-87        |52.4          |0.248                        

1987-88        |54.2          |0.244                        

1988-89        |54.3          |0.240                        

1989-90        |61.9          |0.260                        

1990-91        |69.9          |0.243                        

1991-92        |89.0          |0.239                        

1992-93        |91.6          |0.222                        

1993-94        |90.5          |0.230                        

1994-95        |93.9          |0.239                        

The expenditure on research and development in the coming year has still to be finalised and will be reported in the statistical supplement to the "1995 Forward Look of Government-Funded Science, Engineering and Technology". The changes in the content of my departmental research in the coming years will be described in the main part of the forward look

Dog Fouling

Sir Graham Bright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will introduce national poop scoop legislation for dog fouling;

(2) what estimate he has made of the level of dog fouling in the United Kingdom; and what information he has about it as a major source of filth and disease in urban areas;

(3) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the existing system of byelaws in improving the environment concerning dog fouling.

Mr. Atkins: The Government accept the conclusion of the advisory group on litter that the present complex system of byelaw control for dog fouling in England and Wales is unsatisfactory We therefore propose to simplify the system so that local authorities can introduce poop scoop measures in designated areas, without reference to central Government. We also propose that there should be a fixed penalty scheme for dog fouling offences to help local authorities enforce the measures. We believe that these measures will go a long way to addressing the group's wish to see a national poop scoop offence created across England and Wales.

My Department has made no estimate of dog fouling in the United Kingdom. I understand that the pet advisory committee has estimated that approximately 1,200 tonnes of faeces are produced each day by dogs in the United Kingdom. In 1993 a survey by the Tidy Britain Group found that about one in six public places in the United Kingdom had dog fouling present. Within this sample, one in three off-street areas such as parks, playgrounds and car parks were fouled.

DEFENCE

Energy Expenditure

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the total expenditure on energy for


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each property owned or leased by his Department for the use of Ministers in each of the last three years for which figures are available.

Mr. Soames: The only property leased by my Department for use by Ministers is a flat in Admiralty house, Whitehall, which is occupied by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. Energy costs for this property are not metered separately; they fall to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which is responsible for the utilities costs of the whole building. The amounts attributable to the flat cannot therefore be separately identified.

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the total expenditure on energy for offices and buildings by (a) his Department and (b) his agencies in each of the last three years for which figures are available.

Mr. Soames: Statistics on energy expenditure are not maintained centrally for all the offices and buildings occupied by my Department's staff or for the agencies, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. For headquarters office accommodation, however, the costs were as follows:


            |1991-92  |1992-93  |1993-94            

            |£        |£        |£                  

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

Electricity |3,418,910|3,923,836|4,121,307          

Gas         |314,140  |254,627  |280,189            

Water       |590,975  |543,146  |424,877            

Oil         |642,733  |703,405  |530,000            

European Fighter Aircraft

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what controls on future export sales form part of the European fighter aircraft international partnership agreement; and how these controls are to be exercised by the partner nations in the project.

Mr. Freeman: The arrangements for the sale of Eurofighter 2000 to third parties are set out in the general memorandum of understanding signed by the four partner nations and are reflected in the development contracts. In the development phase, industry must inform the partner nations before licence rights or sales to third parties can be granted, and the participating nations can require industry to refrain from granting such rights or impose conditions on the sale.

Expenditure

Mr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will provide figures for defence expenditure from 1978 79 to 1997 98 using the basis used for the calculation in the "Financial Statement and Budget Report" 1995 96.


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Mr. Soames: The information requested is as follows:


          |£ million          

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

1978-79   |21,760             

1979-80   |23,092             

1980-81   |23,755             

1981-82   |24,224             

1982-83   |25,834             

1983-84   |26,549             

1984-85   |28,040             

1985-86   |27,822             

1986-87   |27,224             

1987-88   |26,567             

1988-89   |25,295             

1989-90   |25,559             

1990-91   |25,292             

1991-92   |26,188             

1992-93   |23,611             

1993-94   |22,757             

1994-95   |22,071             

1995-96   |20,627             

1996-97   |20,310             

1997-98   |20,219             

(1) All figures are in £      

million and are converted to  

constant 1993-94 prices using 

the GDP deflators published   

in the Financial Statement    

and Budget Report 1995-96.    

Outturn information is given  

from 1978-79 to 1993-94. The  

1994-295 total is the         

estimated outturn and figures 

for 1995-96 to 1997-98 are    

the latest plans published in 

the FSBR 1995-96.             

(2) Figures are adjusted for  

technical changes in the      

treatment of Armed Forces and 

civilian pensions described   

in the 1992 Autumn Statement  

Cm 2096, and other            

classification changes.       

(3) Figures before 1992-93    

include expenditure relating  

to the security and           

intelligence services.        

Comparisons with later years' 

figures cannot be made on a   

fully consistent basis.       

(4) Totals include            

expenditure on the Falklands  

and Gulf conflicts but        

exclude Gulf burden-sharing   

contributions received in     

1990-91 and 1991-92.          

Military Training

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to share military training between Salisbury plain and Otterburn.

Mr. Soames: Because the Salisbury plain training area cannot accommodate all the training demands placed on it and has to be managed at a level which will not cause unacceptable environmental damage,it is intended that the Otterburn training area will, in future, be used for live firing of both MLRS and AS90. Although a proportion of AS90 live firing and tactical movement and MLRS manoeuvre training will continue at Salisbury plain, no MLRS live firing will be carried out there in the foreseeable future.

Public Relations

Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Secretary of State of Defence if he will set out his Department's expenditure on public relations in 1989 90, 1990 91, 1991 92, 1992 93 and 1993 94, and planned expenditure in 1994 95.

Mr. Soames: The earliest year for which figures are readily available is 1991 92. Figures which relate to expenditure on films, exhibitions, publications, equipment and headquarters staff and operating costs are:


Year      |£                  

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

1991-92   |5,490,000          

1992-93   |5,520,000          

1993-94   |5,450,000          

The estimated expenditure figure for 1994--95 is £7,305,000 which includes expenditure on WWII commemorations.

Expenditure on public relations outside my Department's HQ is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Sexual Harassment

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he has taken to prevent sexual harassment in the armed forces.

Mr. Soames: It is made clear throughout the armed forces that ill- treatment of any sort is not tolerated. Any complaints of harassment are investigated and, if proven, appropriate action is taken. In April 1994, the Army issued guidelines on dealing with and preventing sexual harassment. The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force are in the process of drawing up similar guidelines.

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how the EC code of practice on measures to combat sexual harassment has been brought to the attention of service personnel.

Mr. Soames: A single code of practice for civilian staff, covering all forms of harassment, including sexual harassment, is being prepared to update existing procedures. This new code takes account of the EC code of practice and when it has been finalised, its provisions will be incorporated into the services' guidelines on dealing with harassment.

Committee on Women

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library all minutes and working party reports of the committee on women in NATO forces from 1976 to the present time.

Mr. Soames: My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence will write to the hon. Member.

Benefits and Remuneration

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library details of the entire benefits and remuneration package enjoyed by men and women in the armed forces from 1976 to the present time.

Mr. Soames: Full details of the entitlements to, and levels of, allowance since 1976 are not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. The key documents relating to the remuneration of members of the armed forces for the period requested are, however, already in the Library of the House. They include: Reports of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body

Royal Navy Orders in Council made under Section 3 of the Naval and Marine Pay and Pensions Act 1865

The Army Pay Warrant

The Army Pensions Warrant

Queen's Orders for the RAF Pay, Allowances and Pensions made under Section 2 of the Air Force Constitution Act 1917

The Queen's Regulations for the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force

Equality

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what working party reports on equality in the


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armed forces were prepared between 1976 and the present time; and what were the dates upon which they reported.

Mr. Soames: In the time available it has not been possible to establish whether any such reports were prepared, other than that referred to in my answer to the hon. Member of 30 November, Official Report , column 784 . It is not my Department's practice to release internal planning documents of this kind.

Nerve Agent Pre-treatment Tablets

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what advice he has received regarding the standard prescribed dosage for nerve agent pre-treatment set tablets.

Mr. Soames: The nerve agent pre-treatment set standard dose of one 30 mg tablet taken eight-hourly was based on scientific and medical advice following studies to establish the efficacy and safety of the constituent drug Pyridostigmine bromide as a nerve agent pre-treatment. Those studies showed effective protection at this dosage with only occasional minor side effects, which cease when the tablets are stopped.

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if civilians serving with the Merchant Navy and based in Plymouth were prescribed a course of nerve agent pre-treatment set tablets prior to and during Operation Granby; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Soames: All personnel deployed to the Gulf theatre of operations, including those MOD civilians working in support of the Navy, were issued with NAPS tablets for their personal administration against the risk of chemical nerve agent attack. All personnel were briefed not to exceed the stated dose and were advised when to commence taking NAPS tablets.

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the standard prescribed dosage of nerve agent pre-treatment set tablets was exceeded (a) during biological and chemical defence training in preparation for Operation Granby and (b) during Operation Granby.

Mr. Soames: During biological and chemical warfare training, personnel are instructed on the purpose and proper administration of nerve agent pre-treatment set tablets and are advised that the stated dose should not be exceeded. The standard dosage of one 30mg NAPS tablet to be taken every eight hours is shown clearly on the packet, which also advises that the standard dose should not be exceeded. The actual taking of NAPS tablets does not form part of chemical and biological training, and we have no evidence to suggest that personnel exceeded the stated dosage during Operation Granby.

Tornado

Dr. David Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of the Tornado F3 aircraft serviced by Airworks Ltd at RAF St. Athan are no longer capable of operational duties; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman: Of the Tornado F3 aircraft that entered the fatigue modification programme with Airwork, 16 require repair. All of these will be recovered to a fully operational state and returned to the RAF.


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Married Quarters

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what expenditure was made by his Department on developing proposals for the creation of the housing trust for the disposal of married quarters.

Mr. Soames: My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence will write to the hon. Member.

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Milton Keynes, North-East (Mr. Butler) of 8 December 1994, Official Report , column 303 , how much money the contract won buy the investment bank, Nat West Markets, for the development of further proposals for the transfer of the married quarters estate is worth.

Mr. Soames: The price of this contract is commercially confidential.

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many units the married housing quarters estate owned by his Department consists of; and what proportion of the estate is currently empty.

Mr. Soames: As at 30 September, the married quarter housing estate owned by my Department consisted of 73,595 properties, of which 11, 729 were vacant. Included in these figures were 2,744 properties in the process of sale, of which 2,014 were vacant. The majority of the other empty properties were undergoing or awaiting major maintenance, held for future deployments, or formed part of the management margin needed to ensure that accommodation is available for entitled service families.


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