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Column 658report, 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.
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
Column 659points 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.
Column 660consultancy 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.
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. 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Column 663these 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.
(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.
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.
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.
Column 664last 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
(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.
Column 665each 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
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.
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.
|£ 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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
Column 668armed 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.