"www.open.gov.uk" (a) the Audit Commission's reports entitled "Paying the Piper" and "Calling the Tune" and (b) other reports of the Audit Commission.
Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the (a) population, (b) number of employees, (c) number of employees per 1,000 population and (d) political party in control in each local authority; and if he will post the answer on his Department's pages on the Government's world wide web server, "www.open.gov.uk.".
Sir Thomas Arnold: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the current policy of the London residuary body towards the ownership and development of County hall; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer: Under the Local Government Act 1985, the London residuary body has a duty to dispose of surplus property for the best price reasonably obtainable; pursuant to this duty the LRB exchanged contracts on 14 October 1994 with Frogmore Estates plc in association with Galliard Homes for the sale of the remainder of the County hall site, and the sale is due to be completed by 29 March 1995.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: My right hon. Friend, my noble Friend the Minister of State and I met with representatives of the construction industry and their clients on 7 February and agreed to set up a new construction industry board. The board will take forward the reform proposals in Sir Michael Latham's report "Constructing the Team". The board will be chaired by
Column 550Sir Michael Latham and will include representatives from the construction industry and its clients.
Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Luton, South (Sir G. Bright) of 14 December, Official Report, column 664, when he proposes to give powers to local authorities to tackle dog fouling; how the designated areas will be determined; and when he expects to bring forward the necessary legislative proposals to effect these changes.
Mr. Atkins: The Dogs (Fouling of Land) Bill, which was introduced by the hon. Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Elletson) and received its Second Reading on 10 February, would give local authorities the necessary powers. The Bill proposes that local authorities may designate land which is open to the air and to which the public have access.
Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with his counterpart in Norway, and what plans he has for discussions on the damage done to the environment by the lack of fully operated coal desulphurisation plant at power stations.
Mr. Atkins: The Secretary of State has had no recent bilateral discussions with his Norwegian counterpart on sulphur emissions from UK power stations. The UK is, however, on target to meet fully its commitments to reduce sulphur emissions under the EC large combustion plants directive. Both the United Kingdom and Norwegian Governments signed last year the UNECE protocol on further reductions in sulphur emissions.
Mr. Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the policy on allowing departmental civil servants to work for, or be seconded to, local authorities; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: The Department strongly encourages interchange with local government. Since 1993, 12 DOE staff have been on secondment to local authorities, and 18 local government staff have had secondments to DOE.
Mr. Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what guidelines have been issued to local authorities since the district auditor's interim report on Westminster city council's designated sales policy; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Private hostels will usually fall within the definition of a house in multiple occupation contained in part XI of the Housing Act 1985. Under these provisions, local authorities have extensive powers to ensure that houses in multiple occupation are fit for the number of occupants. The Department's circular 12/92 sets out guidance to local authorities on the standards of fitness they might wish to impose in such cases.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: The Government continue to promote efficiency, value for money and use of private finance in the provision of affordable housing. In this way we aim to ensure that the maximum benefit is derived from the public resources available.
(2) what monitoring has taken place of the emissions from the Rugby Cement works at Barrington.
Mr. Atkins: Studies have been made on the emissions to air for particulate matter, oxides of nitrogen, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid, oxygen, total organic carbon, dioxins, and heavy metals. The dioxins and heavy metal content of solid waste discharges and the chlorine, heavy metals, sulphur and PCB content of secondary liquid fuels has also been studied.
Rugby cement works at Barrington has monitored all the above parameters.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: The items of expenditure and income falling within the Housing Revenue Account are defined in schedule 4 to the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for the Environment, also issues an annual determination setting out the sums to be debited and credited to the account under items 8 of parts I and II of schedule 4. The Department will shortly be issuing a circular providing further guidance on local authority expenditure and income which should be accounted for in the housing revenue account.
Mr. Biffen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the aggregate financial balances, excluding schools, held by Shropshire at the latest available date and for the corresponding date in 1994 and 1993.
Column 552estimates are subject to amendments as authorities finalise their accounts. Compatible data on the use of balances in 1994 95 which would be needed to derive an estimate of the level of reserves as a date later than 1 April 1994 are not yet available.
Estimated Level of Reserves: Shropshire<1> Date |£ -------------------------------------- 1st April 1993<2> |8,002,000 1st April 1994<3> |-557,000 Notes: <1> These reserves include those which may not be available to the Council for general use. <2> Source: Level of reserves ( outturn) at 1st April 1993 (RS return for 1993-94). <3> Source: Level of reserves ( outturn) at 1st April 1993 +/- appropriations to/withdrawals from reserves during 1993-94 (RS return for 1993-94). The estimated levels of schools reserves at 1st April 1994 is £7,789,000.
Mr. Frank Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of the population of the proposed north riding of Yorkshire is from areas that, prior to local government reorganisation in 1974, were in the administrative areas of the (a) north riding, (b) west riding and (c) east riding of Yorkshire.
Column 553Letter from David Durham to Mr. Peter Bottomley, dated 14 February 1995:
You recently tabled a Parliamentary Question about assessment of sickness at Companies House. The President has informed you that I have been asked to reply as Chief Executive of the Agency as this is an operational matter for Companies House.
Measurement of sickness absence poses a number of statistical problems, and comparisons between different kinds of organisation should be treated with caution, particularly if there are wide differences in, for example, the proportion of part time staff. The figures for the Department as a whole published in the recent Parliamentary Answer given to Mr. David Chidgey MP (Question 187) use a standard, civil service wide definition. We do not use this definition for management purposes at Companies House (CH) because we find it produces anomalous results when applied to part time staff. CH employs an unusually large number of part time staff (333, or 29 per cent. of our workforce). We count absence for management control purposes in line with normal practice in the private sector. This takes account of the very different working patterns that may occur in production environments such as that predominating at CH. Under this definition, CH has had a sickness absence rate for 1994 95 which for 9 month period to the end of December stood at 4.8 per cent. We understand that this is comparable to that achieved by other similar organisations.
In the light of this, I do not believe that any special assessment of sickness absence is necessary.
Mr. Hood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will seek to amend the Coal Industry Act 1994 to give local planning authorities the power to protect the local communities from the liability of restoration of opencast mining sites; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if his changes in the INsolvency Service affect the powers (a) to prosecute for fraud, (b) to disqualify directors and (c) to prosecute in situations of bankruptcy; and if he will make a statement on the rights of private contractors to initiate prosecution and disqualifications.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: No decision to contract out the functions of official receivers has been taken. When considering that decision, Ministers will take into account such factors as value for money and enabling official receivers to concentrate resources on their investigative role. The latter would improve the Insolvency Service's ability to take disqualification proceedings against directors. The power to prosecute in personal bankruptcies and in cases of fraud in company liquidations rests with the investigations division of the Department of Trade and Industry and this situation will not be affected by any decision to contract out official receivers' functions.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the present size of the Insolvency Service employment (a) in total and (b) in each region and nation; and if he will estimate the effects on such employment of his proposals to change the status of the service.
Offices |Permanent staff |<1>OGD loanees etc.|Casual staff |Total staff ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Midland Region Birmingham |71.5 |5 |11.5 |88 Norwich |23 |4 |3 |30 Ipswich |16.5 |2 |3 |21.5 Nottingham |25 |2 |8 |35 Leicester |21.5 |1.5 |2 |25 Northampton |23 |0.5 |0.5 |24 Cambridge |15 |1 |4 |20 Stoke |18 |1 |3.5 |22.5 Chester |19 |1.5 |3.5 |24 Regional Total |232.5 |18.5 |39 |290 South East Region Croydon |71.5 |6 |17.5 |95 Brighton |37.5 |1 |13.5 |52 Canterbury |17.5 |3 |4 |24.5 Rochester |21.5 |2 |4 |27.5 Reading |35.5 |8 |16 |59.5 St. Albans |34.5 |3 |11.5 |49 Southend |33.5 |2 |8 |43.5 Regional Total |251.5 |25 |74.5 |351 South West Region Bristol |28 |3 |11 |42 Gloucester |20 |1 |5.5 |26.5 Cardiff |26.5 |3 |3 |32.5 Plymouth |33 |4 |9 |46 Exeter |21 |3 |10.5 |34.5 Southampton |25.5 |1 |10.5 |37 Bournemouth |19 |2 |10.5 |31.5 Swansea |22 |1 |4 |27 Regional Total |195 |18 |64 |277 Northern Region Manchester |59 |11 |69 |139 Hull |21.5 |2 |1 |24.5 Leeds |37 |5 |4.5 |46.5 Liverpool |23.5 |2 |1 |26.5 Newcastle |25 |2 |7 |34 Stockton |15 |3 |1 |19 St. Annes |30 |1 |1.5 |32.5 Sheffield |22 |2 |1 |25 Regional Total |233 |28 |86 |347 Or London London |147.5 |14 |34 |195.5 PORLU |35 |0 |1 |36 LSU |63 |0 |30 |93 London Total |245.5 |14 |65 |324.5 Headquarters |301 |17 |36 |354 National Total |1,458.5 |120.5 |364.5 |1,943.5 <1> OGD loanees includes short term appointees and staff on loan from other Government Departments and the private sector.
Consultations have been engaged by the service to consider the implications of any decisions to contract out but at this stage it is too early to say what impact such a decision would have on levels of staffing.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many cases have been dealt with and how many staff employed by the Insolvency Service in each year since 1988; and if he will express these figures in index form with 1988 as the base.
New Cases Financial Year |Bankruptcy|Company |Total |Index -------------------------------------------------------------------- 1988-1989 |7,595 |3,550 |11,145 |100 1989-1990 |8,679 |4,431 |13,110 |118 1990-1991 |14,359 |6,777 |21,136 |190 1991-1992 |26,186 |8,911 |35,097 |315 1992-1993 |33,152 |9,540 |42,692 |383 1993-1994 |28,996 |7,623 |36,619 |329 1994-1995<1> |24,400 |6,100 |30,500 |274 <1> Based on actual figures for Quarters 1-3 and projected figure for Quarter 4.
Cases Completed Financial Year |Bankruptcy|Company |Total |Index -------------------------------------------------------------------- 1988-1989 |7,928 |4,871 |12,799 |100 1989-1990 |8,048 |3,875 |11,923 |93 1990-1991 |10,881 |4,900 |15,781 |123 1991-1992 |15,516 |5,900 |21,416 |167 1992-1993 |16,169 |4,957 |21,126 |165 1993-1994 |26,243 |7,746 |33,989 |266 1994-1995<1> |42,500 |10,500 |53,000 |414 <1> Based on projected figures for year.
Average staff in post Financial year |Permanent|Casual |Total |Index ------------------------------------------------------------- 1988-89 |1,393 |16 |1,409 |100 1989-90 |1,386 |20 |1,406 |100 1990-91 |1,431 |24 |1,455 |103 1991-92 |1,499 |85 |1,584 |112 1992-93 |1,531 |158 |1,689 |120 1993-94 |1,537 |281 |1,818 |129 1994-95<1> |1,491 |399 |1,890 |134 <1> Based on average staff in post for 1 April 1994-31 December 1994.
Mr. Jon Owen Jones: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the full cost of the consultancy work carried out by SRU Ltd. on (a) the privatisation of Companies House and (b) the contracting out of work carried out in Companies House.
Column 557imposed for infringement of article 83 of the Euratom treaty since 1988; if he will specify the infringements that occurred; and what has been done in each case to rectify the situation.
Mr. Eggar: Sanctions have been imposed on the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority under article 83 of the Euratom Treaty on only one occasion. That was at the least severe level--a "warning"--on 4 March 1992 concerning a facility at Dounreay. I refer the hon. Member to the European Communities Commission decision C(92) 476 final--OJ L88 of 3 April 1992--a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. To rectify the situation, modifications were made to the plant and to management procedures, and improvements were made to the accounting and records systems.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent, of 26 January, Official Report , column 335 , on the imports and exports of uranium, what factors led to the figures for certain years being classed as commercial in confidence.
Mr. Eggar: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the then Under-Secretary of State for Industry and Energy to the hon. Member for Newcastle Upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Cousins), on 7 February 1995, Official Report , column 142 .
Mr. Eggar: The Department has initiated discussions with representatives of the industry about its prospects and the issues which influence its competitiveness both in the United Kingdom and overseas.
If the right hon. Member has particular concerns in this context I would be pleased to consider them.
Mr. Needham: In France, all auctioneering or individual sales of works of art must be undertaken by "commissaries priseurs", who are personally appointed by the state and restricted in number. As a result, British auction houses are not able to operate in France as corporate entities or to levy commission at rates comparable to those levied in the United Kingdom. The Government will continue to press the European Commission and the French authorities to secure the removal of this barrier to trade.
Mr. John Morris: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the extent to which the solvency rate for Lloyd's of London for each year since 1987 took account of statistics made available to his Department with particular reference to non-marine all other business.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: Lloyd's statutory solvency requirements, which are aimed at ensuring that there are sufficient funds to pay policyholders' valid claims, do not include a solvency rate. Lloyd's is subject to two solvency requirements, the first determined in accordance with section 84 of the Insurance Companies Act 1982, requires the members of Lloyd's taken together to maintain a margin of solvency as prescribed by the Act and relevant regulations. Since 1987, the margin of solvency--the extent to which the value of the declared assets of the members taken together exceeds the required minimum--has varied between 11.5 and 2.25 the required minimum, and for the year ended December 1993 was three times the required minimum. For this test, the required minimum is calculated--in conformity with domestic and European law applying to all insurers--by reference to premium received or claims notified. The "settlement statistics" made available to the Department about particular classes of business--of which the non-marine all other is one--do not have a direct impact on this margin of solvency. The settlement statistics are however one of the elements used to determine the basis for calculating the liabilities considered in the second solvency requirement. In accordance with section 83 of the Act, the value of each underwriter's assets must meet his/her liabilities--the liabilities, for general business, within which the non-marine all other category falls being calculated on a basis approved by the Secretary of State. Where appropriate, an underwriter's assets may be supported by the central fund and other assets held centrally by the society. For these purposes a name's liability on each syndicate is his/her share of the syndicate's liabilities, which in turn is the greater of
(i) the product of the syndicate's premium income and a percentage approved by the Secretary of State, and
(ii) the reserves regarded as necessary by the underwriting agent, and confirmed by syndicates' auditors.
In deciding which percentages to approve, the Secretary of State has regard to all available relevant information, of which the settlement statistics are an important part. Since the percentages determine the minimum reserves applicable to all syndicates, and are not averages to be applied to the totality of business, and the settlement statistics are in respect of the aggregate of business in a particular audit class, the percentages are not directly dependent upon the settlement statistics. It would be inappropriate to impose a level of percentages based upon the average of all syndicates, as that would cause some to be materially over-reserved. It is accordingly expected that a number of syndicates' liabilities will be determined on the basis (ii) above. Thus the achievement of this solvency requirement--which has been met every year since 1987, and every year prior to that--is not directly dependent on the settlement statistics.
administrations not to disclose such information unless the public interest outweighs the requirements of confidentiality.
Mrs. Clwyd: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 20 January, Official Report , column 760 , on what occasions Ministers or officials in his Department have met any representatives of the Iraqi British interests group, and for what purposes, since sanctions began.
Mr. Needham: Although Ministers and officials may for a variety of reasons have met representatives of the companies involved in the Iraq British interests group, there have been no meetings with the Iraq British interests group's organisers since its formation.
Mr. Keith Hill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the potential annual casualty reduction in respect of deaths and injuries which would arise from the implementation of the proposed European Union crash test legislation in relation to (a) frontal impacts (i) stage 1 angled barrier and(ii) stage 2 offset deformable barrier and (b) side impacts (iii) with ground clearance of 260 mm and (iv) with ground clearance of 300 mm.
(i) There is insufficient research to make a precise estimate but the overall effect on the numbers of casualties is likely to be small.
(ii) Up to 65,000 deaths and serious injuries per annum in the European Union--for which some 10 per cent. in the UK.
(iii) This has not been estimated. Any reduction in the height of the lower edge of the barrier below 300 mm makes the test less effective at reducing casualties in side impact accidents.
(iv) Up to 25,000 deaths and serious injuries per annum in the European Union--of which some 10 per cent. in the UK.
Mr. Norris: We announced on 15 December the allocation of £79 million in 1995 96 for 37 local authority transport packages covering bus priority measures and park and ride schemes. In 1995 96 the package approach to local transport investment becomes the norm, particularly in urban areas. In addition, I have reconstituted the bus working group with representatives from the Confederation of Passenger Transport, local authority associations and the National Federation of Bus Users, to see what further measures can be taken to improve bus services within the deregulated framework.
Column 560Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Mr. David Hinchliffe, dated 14 February 1995:
The Minister for Roads and Railways has passed to me your request on what assessments are made of the risk of sediment from soil disturbance entering watercourses, prior to commencing road construction. This is an operational matter for which the Highways Agency is responsible.
All schemed in the National Road Programme are subject to Environmental Assessment at key stages in their development. The Assessment permits consideration of the likely environmental effects and allows Statutory Bodies like the National Rivers Authority (who are responsible for maintaining and conserving water quality) to comment on our proposals.
There are a number of ways in which a road scheme may affect watercourses. The Environmental Assessment will record the existing quality of these watercourses and the areas which are vulnerable to change. The assessment and subsequent mitigation will be discussed with the National Rivers Authority throughout the development of a road scheme. Prior to any contract for road construction being awarded, the Highways Agency would include the National Rivers Authority specific requirements in the contract documents to safeguard any watercourses.
Mr. Watts: I regret this information is not available because it depends on the statutory progress of individual schemes in the current programme and on the availability of funds to take them forward. Furthermore, as scheme design evolves so their detailed requirements are refined.
Mr. Watts: Environmental assessment has formed part of the Department's procedures for road schemes for many years. Trunk road proposals are the Government's responsibility and we give full weight to environmental aspects alongside economic, engineering and safety considerations in the decision-making process. Assessment takes place throughout the development of a trunk road scheme and informs the decision- making process at all stages. The current requirements are laid down in volume 11 of the design manual for roads and bridges. The final stage of the assessment is in accordance with directive 85/337/EEC. A formal environmental statement is published, where the scheme is likely to have a significant environmental effect, with the draft orders. This statement, together with representations about it, must be formally considered by the Secretaries of State for the Environment and for Transport in reaching their decision on whether or not to go ahead with the scheme. Schemes promoted by local highway authorities require planning permission and are also, where they are likely to have a significant effect on the environment, subject to formal environmental assessment in accordance with the directive. The planning authority must have regard to all material considerations including, where required, the environmental information.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 6 February, if his inquiry into breaches of the Air Navigation Order of flights containing calves from Coventry airport in
Column 561November and December 1994 deals specifically with the airline involved.