Mr. Stewart: The Bellwin scheme, through the assistance it gives to local authorities in dealing with the financial effects of emergencies, allows local authorities to provide relief and carry out immediate works to safeguard life or property or prevent suffering or inconvenience to affected communities in the knowledge that 85 per cent. of all eligible expenditure above each authority's threshold will be reimbursed by grant under the scheme.
Mr. Tyler: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what was (a) the total capacity and (b) the total number of abattoirs in Scotland in 1979, 1984, 1989 and 1994; and how many abattoirs in Scotland now conform to the requirements of the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1992.
Year |Number of |abattoirs<1> --------------------------------------- 1979 |91 1984 |75 1989 |68 1994 |49 <1> This figure includes slaughterhouses on the Scottish islands which operate for a short period each year and have a very low throughput.
Currently, 49 abattoirs are licensed under the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1992; of these, 17 are operating under a temporary derogation for structural upgrading.
Mr. McMaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what specific assistance will be available to local authorities to undertake (a) temporary and (b) permanent flood prevention schemes in Strathclyde during the current financial year and in future years; if he will make additional capital and revenue funding available for flood prevention schemes; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Stewart: Strathclyde regional council is the flood prevention authority for its area. For immediate expenditure on emergency works and temporary repairs to existing flood defence works following severe flooding the Bellwin scheme will apply. The Scottish Office will by this means meet 85 per cent. of current expenditure incurred over the council's threshold.
In the longer term, the council and its successor authorities will wish to consider what use it should make of its powers under the Flood Prevention (Scotland) Act 1961. Government grant of 50 per cent. is available towards the eligible costs of approved schemes. I can
Column 348assure the hon. Member that any proposals for flood prevention schemes will be given prompt consideration and will be taken into account when setting the capital allocations at that time.
Mr. McMaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the definition of insurable as described in the Bellwin scheme; how this will apply to the property which was insurable, but not insured, in the recent floods; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Stewart: The cost of dealing with any damage or loss that is insurable under normal insurance policies is not eligible for grant under the Bellwin scheme. This applies irrespective of whether or not the damage or loss in question was in fact insured.
It is for local authorities themselves to make their own insurance arrangements. Grant under the Bellwin scheme is not intended to recompense authorities for loss or damage against which they could have insured but chose in fact not to do so. Local authorities are therefore expected to demonstrate when submitting claims in respect of loss or damage to their own property that the property was not insurable in the normally accepted sense, and to indicate in their claims whether or not any property covered by the claim was insured, and if not, to give reasons why insurance had not been taken. These requirements are contained in Scottish Office Finance Circular No. 6/1990, which sets out the rules governing the Bellwin scheme and are those which will be applied to any claims from local authorities arising from the Strathclyde flooding.
Mr. McMaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what security arrangements were in place during his visit to the Paisley flood sites in the period between Christmas and new year; how often he has made official visits under these arrangements since he assumed his Cabinet post; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. McMaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what assessment he has made of the causes of abnormal flooding in Renfrew district during recent months; what future measures he will take to identify the causes of such flooding; and if he will make a statement;
(2) if he will assist the financing of comprehensive hydrological study to examine the underlying reasons for the floods in Strathclyde during December 1994; if he will instruct appropriate departments of the Scottish Office to establish a task force to act as lead agency in such a study; if he will instruct or assist the development of related detailed hydrological studies of smaller geographical areas where flooding occurred; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Stewart: The floods were a consequence of exceptional rainfall leading to unprecedented flows in rivers over much of Strathclyde. It is important to record and analyse the details of the floods and their effects. My right hon. Friend is pleased to announce that he has agreed to pay £10,000 towards the costs of a comprehensive hydrological study being promoted by the Clyde River purification board. His officials will participate in the development and management of the study. Similarly there is likely to be a need for a separate study of urban watercourses and culverts and their role in flooding. Strathclyde regional council is the responsible authority and it is for it to take the lead. But here again the Scottish
Column 349Office is ready to provide support to Strathclyde regional council, both through a contribution to costs and participation in a steering group, should the council decide to promote such a study.
Mr. McMaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland in what ways the Clyde port authority has changed its policies and responsibilities for preventing floods since it was privatised; if he will publish a table showing (a) the location and (b) frequency of dredging operations for each of the three years which (i) preceded and (ii) followed privatisation; what assessment he has made of the responsibility of Clyde port authority in the recent floods; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Stewart: Clydeport Ltd.--previously Clyde Port Authority--is not responsible for flood prevention. The company has a permissive power to dredge the Clyde river channel to the extent necessary for the maintenance and improvement of the port.
Information about Clydeport Ltd.'s dredging operations is not readily available in the format requested. The information set out in the table has been supplied by Clydeport Ltd. but locations and frequencies vary according to operational requirements.
Quantities dredged per annum from common river channel and Clydeport Operations Limited's operational docks and berths between Broomielaw and Newshot Light/Dalmuir Year |Quantity (m<3>) ------------------------------------------------ 1989 |228,872 1990 |155,954 1991 |222,199 1992 |56,664 1993 |62,825 1994 |135,943 1995 (planned) |96,951
Mr. McMaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his advice to residents who were victims of the Strathclyde floods who have to return to their homes before flood prevention measures have been put in place; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Stewart: The Government fully recognise that residents remain concerned and will expect that immediate action can be taken to protect their property against the possibility of a recurrence. However the extent and priority of any flood prevention measures are matters for the regional council. Accordingly concerned residents should take every opportunity to let the council know how they feel and press for priority to be accorded to addressing their particular situations.
In considering its response the council will be aware of the very extreme nature of the recent events and will have to make a careful assessment of risk to determine the degree of protection which any schemes it decides to implement might afford. Pending the development of any permanent flood prevention measures, councils may be able to advise on precautions residents could take to minimise damage to their property in the event of further flooding.
Mr. McMaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the Acts of Parliament which apply to the prevention, operational action and relief of floods and other natural disasters in Scotland; if he will list the
Column 350main provisions of each Act; and if he will make a statement.
Flood Prevention (Scotland) Act 1961 which empowers regional and islands councils to carry out work to prevent or mitigate flooding of land in their area, not being agricultural land, so far as they think fit--section 1. Any work other than maintenance and management operations must be authorised by the Secretary of State--section 4. Coast Protection Act 1949 which empowers coast protection authorities (islands councils and councils of regions adjoining the sea) to carry out such coast protection work as may appear to them to be necessary or expedient for the protection of any land in their area--section 4. Certain coast protection work must be authorised by the Secretary of State-- section 6.
Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973--section 84--which allows local authorities to incur expenditure in taking action to avert, alleviate or eradicate in their area or among its inhabitants the effects or potential effects of an emergency or disaster involving destruction of or danger to life or property. Local authorities are also empowered to make grants or loans in respect of such action taken by others.
Civil Protection in Peacetime Act 1986 which allows local authorities to use civil defence resources in taking action to avert, alleviate or eradicate in their area or among its inhabitants the effects or potential effects of an emergency or disaster involving destruction of or danger to life or property notwithstanding that the event is unconnected with any form of hostile attack by a foreign power--section 2.
Local Government and Housing Act 1989--section 5--which empowers the Secretary of State to establish a scheme for the giving of financial assistance to local authorities in respect of expenditure incurred by them on, or in connection with, the taking of immediate action (whether by the carrying out of works or otherwise) to safeguard life or property, or to prevent suffering or severe inconvenience, in their area or among their inhabitants. The expenditure must have been incurred as a result of an emergency or disaster involving destruction of or danger to life on property. Land Drainage (Scotland) Act 1958 which enables the owner of agricultural land, subject to authorisation by an improvement order made by the Secretary of State, to carry out such drainage work as will improve drainage or will prevent or mitigate flooding or erosion--section 1.
The Agriculture Act 1970--section 29--empowers Ministers to make schemes for the provision of nationally-funded capital grants. Statutory Instrument 1989 No. 128 (as varied) gives effect to the Farm and Conservation Grant Scheme--nationally. Under the scheme, grants are available for the improvement or alteration of the banks or channels of watercourses or other agricultural flood prevention works to provide or improve the drainage of agricultural land, or to prevent flooding or erosion of agricultural land.
The Agricultural Act 1970--sections 92 94 as amended by the Local Government and Planning (Scotland) 1982--section 21--empowers river purification boards and islands councils to provide and operate flood warning systems for their areas.
Mr. Welsh: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will detail for each of the years since 1979 80 the household income distribution in Scotland, grouped into deciles for each year and expressed in both cash terms and at April 1994 prices, expressing them both before and after housing costs.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Information in the form requested is not available. However, the Scottish "Abstract of Statistics" provides a breakdown of average weekly household income and expenditure in Scotland by different income bands. A copy is available in the Library.
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many police officers (a) in Scotland and (b) in Grampian have submitted claims for (i) casual overtime, (ii) four or more separate periods of half hour casual overtime per week and (iii) three separate periods of half hour casual overtime per week, in the last full six month period for which records are available: and if he will make a statement.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: We do not hold this information centrally. However, figures supplied by the Council of Mortgage Lenders suggest that, in 1993, 2,330 properties were taken into possession in Scotland. This represents 0.29 per cent. of the total number of properties with mortgages outstanding, which is around half the proportion for the United Kingdom as a whole.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 13 January 1995]: Information on numbers of patients waiting for in-patient and day case treatment for 30 September 1994, the latest date for which information is centrally available, and for each of the previous four years, is shown in the table. Information on numbers of patients waiting for out-patient treatment is not centrally available.
NHSiS-waiting lists<1>; by type of patient; as at 30 September |In-patients|Day cases ------------------------------------------------ 1990 |59,483 |17,892 1991 |61,550 |20,243 1992 |61,646 |22,228 1993 |55,518 |26,728 1994<2> |51,663 |28,048 <1>True waiting list. Excludes repeat and deferred waiting lists. <2>Provisional.
Column 352(c) by each general practitioner fundholding practice and (d) by each trust.
Lord James Douglas Hamilton [holding answer 13 January 1995]: The total value of NHS contracts placed with non-NHS providers in 1993 94 was £16.255 million provisional figure only. This total is analysed by each health board as follows:
Health Board |£000 ------------------------------------------------ Argyll and Clyde |1,066 Ayrshire and Arran |1,504 Borders |1,355 Dumfries and Galloway |50 Fife |405 Forth Valley |368 Grampian |233 Greater Glasgow |7,730 Highland |142 Lanarkshire |2,625 Lothian |301 Orkney |2 Shetland |- Tayside |474 Western Isles |- Total |16,255
The value of NHS contracts placed with non-NHS providers by each general practitioner fundholding practice and by each trust is not available centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Health boards also have contracts with local authorities, hospices and voluntary agencies where these organisations are registered charities undertaking specific contracted activities but information on these is no longer collected centrally.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 13 January 1995]: Since April 1991, the Building Division of the Common Services Agency of the NHS in Scotland has been privatised through a sale as a going concern following a tendering exercise.
Over the same period the following services have been market tested to a differing extent by health boards, the Common Services Agency and NHS trusts:
grounds and estates maintenance
linen and laundry
electrical and mechanical engineering
wheelchair technical support
Column 353The majority of contracts for these services have been won by in-house teams and the rest by private contractors.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 13 January 1995]: Responsibility for the Health Education Authority lies with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health. The comparable Scottish organisation is the Health Education Board for Scotland. Matters such as funding and functions will fall to be considered in the quinquennial review of the board, which will be set in train in 1995.
Mr. Cohen: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the cost to his Department of its support of the trade mission of November 1994 to Saudi Arabia; and from which subheads of which votes these funds were taken.
Mr. Needham: There was no expenditure incurred by the Department of Trade and Industry for the British Aerospace Trade mission which took place in November 1994. The support offered for this trade mission was purely advisory.
Mr. Heseltine: DTI Ministers determine the policy and resources framework within which each of our agencies operates, but do not normally become involved in the management of the agencies. The detail of the framework for each agency is set out in a framework document, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Ian Taylor: The directive requires member states to comply with its provisions by 1 July this year, and my intention is to lay the necessary implementing legislation before Parliament in sufficient time for it to come into force on that date.
Mr. Battle: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the names and number of main post offices or Crown offices which have been converted by Post Office Counters Ltd. since 1988 into agency offices run under franchise agreements.
Mr. Charles Wardle: I understand from the Post Office that since 1988, Post Office Counters Ltd. has converted 114 Crown post offices to agency offices operated under franchise agreements. A copy of the list of these offices is being placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Alex Carlile: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the quality of service provided by insolvency practitioners in relation to the preparation of initial misconduct reports in the light of the National Audit Office's report on company directors' disqualification; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: Following the recommendations contained in the reports of the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee, the Insolvency Service's disqualification unit has been monitoring the effectiveness of its programme to improve the quality and timeliness of initial misconduct reports submitted by insolvency practitioners. During the half-year ended 30 June 1994, 58 per cent. of reports received were considered to be of an acceptable quality across a range of criteria, including timeliness; during the six months ended 31 December 1994 this increased to 80 per cent. Further improvements are expected when the unit commences a programme of guidance visits to practitioners who have a poor record of reporting; and after the introduction of revised report forms under the Government's de-regulation initiative.
Mr. Alex Carlile: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will give details of the costs and savings which would result from contracting out the mechanical processing work of the Insolvency Service; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Alex Carlile: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what are expected to be the redundancy costs which would result from contracting out the mechanical processing work of the Insolvency Service; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: No decision to contract out any functions of official receivers has been taken. It is therefore too early to say what, if any, redundancies would occur if such a decision were taken and what the related costs would be.
In the event that such a decision were taken, however, every possible step would be taken to avoid redundancies wherever possible.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: Stoy Hayward's report on options for involving the private sector in the work of the official receivers was published on 10 October 1994 by placing copies in the Libraries of the House and DTI library. The published version of the report does not
Column 355include the appendices produced by the consultants as these contain financial information which is commercially confidential.
Mr. Bill Michie: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what legal advice he has received on the impact that privatisation of the Insolvency Service could have on the disqualification of directors and the prosecution of directors and bankrupts and on the application of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: No decision to contract out work of the official receivers has yet been taken; any decision would be subject to the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 and the procedures applicable to contracting out which are set out in it.
In the circumstances, it is far too early to consider the issue of Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations, the implications of which may not become clear until the nature of proposals in any bidding process could be assessed.
Mrs. Peacock: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what power the Department of Trade and Industry's Insolvency Service has over the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales or registered professional bodies if it is found that they have ignored their own bye laws on a practitioner's duty to the public.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: The Insolvency Service, through frequent contact with officials of the recognised professional bodies and formal visits, seeks to ensure that each body deals with complaints against its members fairly, promptly and in accordance with its own rules, and that there is consistency between the bodies. Consideration would be given to withdrawal of recognition if a body was found to be acting in disregard of its rules.