Mr. Morgan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 22 February, Official Report , column 195 , how many "Dear Accounting officer" letters he has sent to non-departmental bodies giving guidance on the schedule E classification and tax status of non-executive board members; on what date they were sent; and what their principal elements were.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: I have asked Customs and Excise to review the current provisions on VAT group registration and report to me by the early summer with a view to including any necessary changes in next year's Finance Bill. However, following a recent VAT tribunal decision, I have decided to propose some changes in the law immediately to prevent continuing tax losses by manipulation of the current provisions for tax avoidance purposes. The new clause will be tabled in the course of this year's Finance Bill. The clause, if approved, will have effect as from midnight tonight.
Customs and Excise will be issuing a press notice, together with a draft of the clause, today. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will ensure the enforcement provisions contained in the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 apply to all regulations for which his Department is responsible, past, present and future; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, representing the Church Commissioners, what losses were sustained by the Commissioners over the Ashford Great Park programme; and what charge exists, or legal action has been taken by them against the European Land group of companies, or family trusts or interests of Mr. James Cookson and his successors.
Mr. Alison: Companies within the European land group and controlled by the late Mr. James Cookson were one of the commissioners' partners in the Ashford Great Park project, but they went into receivership in 1992. Shortly afterwards the Commissioners exercised their legal charge over the land purchased for the project in order to offset the loans owed to the Commissioners by their partners. No further action is being taken against European Land or its subsidiaries or the family interests of Mr. Cookson following his death. All of the land purchased for the project now belongs to the Commissioners and, for the present, this land has been written down to its value at an agricultural estate but with the benefit of the local plan allocation for redevelopment at some stage in the future. The cost of the Commissioners' investment in the partnership amounted to £80 million.
Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Lord President of the Council if he has at any time met the chairman and/or members of the senior salaries review body to discuss its current review of the parliamentary contributory pension fund.
Mr. Keith Hill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what will be the continuing sum available for the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising over the next three financial years for the support of passenger services both franchise and those operated by British Rail.
Column 467of which £1,610 million will be paid by the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising to British Rail and franchisees, and £190 million will be paid by the Department of Transport to passenger transport authorities.
Estimates of the level of grant support for later years are not yet available.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations he has received in relation to the rudder assembly of the Furness Bridge; what recent assessment he has made of rudder assemblies in other ships in the Derbyshire class; and if he will make a statement.
Letter from R. M. Bradley to Mrs. Joan Walley, dated 28 February 1995:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your Question about the rudder assembly of the Furness Bridge and other ships in the Derbyshire class.
Two representations have been received in relation to the rudder assembly of the Furness Bridge. I am not aware of any recent assessments of rudder assemblies of other ships in the Derbyshire class.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if delays to motorists arising from structural maintenance of the road network are included in the assessment of the track costs of heavy lorries.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will issue guidelines to London bus operators to direct their drivers to switch off their engines when a bus is parked; and if he will make a statement.
Column 468financial assistance to the Government of Suriname for the purpose of strengthening the Surinamese forest management service.
Mr. Baldry: We provide substantial assistance in promoting sustainable forest management to a number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Honduras and Guyana, but we have no plans to introduce a bilateral aid programme to Suriname.
The change-over the figure of 80 per cent. previously given for the proportion of aid going to the poorest countries in 1992 93 is explained by the following factors:
(i) technical changes in the definition used for aid to the poorest including:
a reclassification of some emergency aid provided through multilateral agencies from multilateral to bilateral aid, reflecting the fact that the aid is made available for countries that ODA specifies and is thus bilateral is character. Since many of the recipients for instance, in the former Yugoslavia--are not among the poorest countries, this has the effect of reducing bilateral aid to the poorest. This accounts for a change of over two percentage points;
a change in the OECD definition of income groups, lowering the threshold for low income countries from an annual income per head of $765 to $675. This accounts for a change of two percentage points; (ii) some shift of aid expenditure from low income countries to lower middle income countries accounting for the remaining change of over six percentage points. This includes emergency aid in Bosnia and Angola, neither of which are classified by the OECD as low income countries.
Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that timber imports from Brazil to the United Kingdom do not come from indigenous and biological reserves.
Mr. Baldry: It is the Brazilian Government's responsibility to ensure that timber extraction in Brazil is undertaken legally. The Brazilian Government are aware of our concern that logging in the Amazon should be legal and sustainable.
Our embassy in Brasilia has helped arrange discussions between representatives of United Kingdom timber importers and interested bodies in Brazil aimed at ensuring that all mahogany imported from Brazil comes from legal sources.
Through our aid programme we aim to help strengthen forest policies and management in Brazil.
Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what monitoring he is carrying out in respect of the World Bank funded Carajas project in Brazil; and what are his conclusions in relation to evidence of illegal logging and mining activities in indigenous people's territories.
Mr. Baldry: The World Bank loan for the Carajas iron ore project and associated railway was approved in 1982 and closed in 1987. We have no recent information about logging and mining activities in the region.
Column 470Change: the UK Programme" are (a) delivering and (b) now expected to deliver greater savings than were initially expected.
Mr. Atkins: We are currently reviewing the contributions expected from the measures in our climate change programme in the light of recent developments, taking account of the revised energy projections that the Department of Trade and Industry is working on. I shall make an announcement to the House shortly.
Mrs. Maddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many dwellings owned by each Government Department lay vacant in each year since 1979; and what proportion of each Department's total housing stock this represented in each case.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Comprehensive data on Government Department vacant dwellings are not available. The table sets out the readily available estimates of vacants, including those in need of refurbishment or awaiting sale or demolition, for the Departments with the largest numbers of dwellings. In response to the report of the task force on Government Departments' empty homes, the Government have undertaken to monitor empty residential properties owned by Departments and to set annual targets for reducing vacants; the targets for 1994 95 were announced on 30 November last year.
|1989 |1990 |1991 |1992 |1993 |1994 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Number of vacants Ministry of Defence |16,286|13,991|11,975|11,180|10,973|11,313 Department of Health<1> |15,911|n/a |14,729|n/a |1,800 |n/a Home Office<2> |3,241 |2,382 |1,641 |1,406 |1,672 |n/a Scottish Office |502 |319 |310 |246 |239 |158 Department of Transport |n/a |n/a |584 |483 |788 |887 Welsh Office<3> |85 |n/a |n/a |n/a |40 |43 Percentage of housing stock vacant Ministry of Defence |21 |18 |16 |15 |15 |16 Department of Health<1> |18 |n/a |15 |n/a |12 |n/a Home Office<2> |16 |14 |10 |9 |12 |n/a Scottish Office |23 |16 |16 |15 |14 |10 Department of Transport |n/a |n/a |22 |16 |22 |23 Welsh Office<3> |19 |n/a |n/a |n/a |17 |18 <1> Includes NHS. The 1989 and 1991 figures include empty bed-spaces in hostels. <2> Includes the Prison Service and Metropolitan and provincial police authorities. <3> Excludes dwellings awaiting demolition or conversion to non-residential use. n/a = Not available.
Mr. Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much money was spent on the provision of disabled facilities in each of the wards within the borough of Westminster in each of the last 10 years.
Mr. Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much money was spent in each of the wards within the borough of Westminster for council house refurbishment for (a) facade improvements, (b)
Column 470stone cleaning, (c) tree planting and (d) improving pavements in each of the last 10 years.
Column 471adequacy of the level of penalties that can be imposed on councillors and officers who do not comply with district auditors' demands; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Any person who, without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with any requirement of an auditor under sections 16(1) and 16(2) of the Local Government Finance Act 1982 is liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to £200 and to an additional fine of £20 for each day on which the offence continues after conviction. I am not aware of any evidence that this is an inadequate penalty.
Mr. Hardy: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, how many prosecutions were carried out in respect of breaches of tree preservation orders in each of the last five years; and what assessment he had made as to the extent to which this mechanism is effective.
Sir Paul Beresford: Information on the numbers of prosecutions in respect of breaches of tree preservation orders is not collected centrally. The effectiveness of this mechanism was considered as part of a wide- ranging review of tree preservation policies and legislation. The outcome, following public consultation, was announced by my hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment and Countryside in July last year. A number of changes are proposed to ensure that local authorities have adequate powers to bring effective action against abusers of the system. A paper setting out the Government's conclusions in more detail was placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list (a) the house building requirements imposed by his Department in each county authority for the period 1991 to 2006 and (b) the environmental constraints which have affected the requirement downwards; what considerations determine the house building requirement (i) nationally and (ii) regionally; and what assessments he makes of the infrastructure required to support such a building requirement.
Mr. Robert B. Jones [holding answer 27 February 1995]: The proposed provision of additional housing for each county in England is set out in "Regional and Strategic Planning Guidance". The figures for each county are shown in the table.
National population projections are provided by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys in consultation with local authorities. The Department of the Environment produces household projections for counties, and the metropolitan boroughs, which are adjusted to be consistent with national totals. The proposed regional dwelling provision is based on the household projections, and take into account factors such as the need for house replacement, vacancy rates, second homes, and tied accommodation.
Regional conferences of local authorities are consulted on the distribution of the regional figures. In considering the figures they are required to take national planning and environmental policies into account, as well as local circumstances and constraints.
Column 472The figures in regional planning guidance are then tested through the structure plan process, and subject to scrutiny through an examination in public. This enables the figures to be refined in the light of local circumstances.
Infrastructure requirements should be considered at the regional, county, and local level according to the size and strategic nature of proposed developments.
Proposed regional level dwelling provision for counties in England (Figures are annual averages for the period stated, and are taken from "Regional or Strategic Planning Guidance" unless otherwise stated.) |Number ------------------------------------------------------------ East Midlands region-1991 to 2011 Derbyshire |3,250 Leicestershire |3,500 Lincolnshire |3,400 Northamptonshire |3,500 Nottinghamshire |3,250 Eastern region-1986 to 2006 Cambridgeshire |3,700 Norfolk |3,450 Suffolk |3,100 Northern region-1991 to 2006 Cleveland |933 Durham |1,400 Northumberland |1,033 Tyne and Wear Metropolitan area SPG<1> |2,315 South East region-1991 to 2006 Bedfordshire |2,467 Berkshire |2,667 Buckinghamshire |3,267 East Sussex |2,333 Essex |5,333 Hampshire |6,133 Hertfordshire |3,333 Isle of Wight |533 Kent |5,800 Oxfordshire |2,467 Surrey |2,400 West Sussex |2,933 London Metropolitan area |1,155 South West region-1991 to 2011 Avon |2,950 Cornwall |2,250 Devon |4,950 Dorset |3,150 Gloucester |2,650 Somerset |2,500 Wiltshire |3,450 West Midlands region 1991-2011 (consultation draft figures) Hereford and Worcester |2,500 Shropshire |2,150 Staffordshire |2,850 Warwickshire |1,750 West Midlands (Metropolitan area) |5,000 Yorkshire and Humberside region 1991-2006 (consultation draft figures) Humberside |3,500 North Yorkshire |3,000 South Yorkshire (Metropolitan area) |3,400 West Yorkshire (Metropolitan area) |6,700 North West region (draft RPG forthcoming-figures are for time scales as detailed) Cheshire structure plan (1986-2001) |3,933 Cumbria structure plan (1981-1996) |1.573 Further proposed modifications (1991-2006) |1,833 Lancashire structure plan (1986-1996) |4,120 Deposit replacement plan (1991-2006) |4,403 Merseyside SPG, 1986-2001 (Metropolitan area) |3,303 Greater Manchester SPG, 1986 to 2001 (Metropolitan area) |4,000 <1> 1988 to 2001 (1) Includes NHS. The 1989 and 1991 figures include empty bed-spaces in hostels. (2) Includes the Prison Service and Metropolitan and provincial police authorities. (3) Excludes dwellings awaiting demolition or conversion to non-residential use.
Mr. Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what consultations there have been with the trustees of the Marquis of Bute's estate regarding the permission granted for three years from 1 January 1992 to January 1995, for NCM Ltd. to remain co-located with his Department at Crown buildings, Cathays park; on what date and until what date an extension to the permission was granted; and if he will make a statement.
Sir Paul Beresford [holding answer 23 February 1995] : The permission given on behalf of the Bute estate for NCM Ltd. to occupy Crown buildings, Cathays park, contrary to a restrictive covenant within the deeds for the premises, has been excited.
The liquidator of Mountjoy Ltd., successors in title to all the Cardiff property formerly owned by the Marques of Bute, consented by letter dated 31 January 1995 to waive the restrictive covenant for a period of six months from the date of that letter.
Negotiations of a commercial nature are continuing between my Department and NCM Ltd. It is therefore not appropriate for any statement to be made.
Mr. Alton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps her Majesty's Government are taking to monitor access and take-up of objective 1 funds by small and medium enterprises and, in particular Department of Trade and Industry co-financed schemes.
Mr. Curry [holding answer 20 February 1995]: Monitoring of objective 1 funds on Merseyside will be undertaken by the Government office for Merseyside for European regional development fund including DTI co- financed schemes, the Employment Department for European Structural Fund and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund. The Merseyside single programme document sets clear targets for the assistance of SMEs through the programme and progress towards these targets will form part of the monitoring process.
Column 474(a) Greater London (b) metropolitan districts and (c) elsewhere; what are the figures for each year since the establishment of the single regeneration budget; and how much is planned to be spent in (i) 1995 96 and (ii) 1996 62.
Mr. Robert B. Jones [holding answer 21 February 1995]: The single regeneration budget came into operation in April 1994. Outturn expenditure in 1994 95 on the contributing programmes within the SRB is expected to be:
|£ million ---------------------------------------------- a) Greater London |373.7 b) Metropolitan districts |639,5 c) elsewhere |254.5 Total |1,267.7
These figures exclude expenditure by English Partnerships, whose budget has not been regionally allocated. Total expenditure may also be higher in areas where contributing programmes make use of receipts or contributions from local authorities or the private sector. Planned SRB expenditure, including English Partnerships, in future years is £1,329.0 million in 1995 96 and £1,324.2 million in 1996 97. As allocations to specific areas are not finalised and new SRB partnerships will, in some cases, operate across local authority areas, a breakdown of this planned expenditure by the areas sought is not available.
Ms Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to the answer of 21 February 1995, Official Report, column 149, regarding additional section 11 funding, if he will give the amounts of section 11 funding ring-fenced within the single regeneration budget, in November 1994.
I refer the hon. Member to the reply that my right hon. and learned Friend has given today to a question by the hon. Member for Edmonton (Dr. Twinn).
Mr. Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list those directives from the European Union/Community since 1990 which have had an effect on local government, stating for each (a) the manner in which the directive has been absorbed into United Kingdom law, (b) the means of enforcing the directive and (c) the extra resources made available to local authorities to meet those consequences, differentiating between provision by way of standard spending assessments, annual capital guidelines and basic credit approvals.
Mr. Gummer: I have today placed in the Library a table containing information about directives from the European Community which have affected local government, and the legislation which makes provision for their enforcement in national law. The European Union recognises that most of the activities of local councils are best regulated by local and national Government. However, many environmental issues can be addressed effectively only in the context of the European Union and the UK plays its proper part at the heart of the Union seeking to ensure that directives are good for Britain and good for Europe. The annual local government finance settlement takes full account of the cost to local authorities of all new burdens, including those arising from the European Community. Basic credit approvals issued to each authority are calculated by reference to annual capital guidelines; these are assessments of the authority's need to spend and are determined by the Government Department with the policy responsibility for each service.
Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will list the research projects undertaken in his Department to ascertain the impact of quotas for European work in the television without frontiers directive, and its effect on strengthening the European audio-visual industries ability to produce and distribute television programmes.
Mr. Dorrell: My Department has not undertaken any research projects into the effect of the European programme requirements in articles 4 and 5 of the television without frontiers directive. The hon. Gentleman may, however, be interested in a study conducted by London Economics, "The Economic Impact of Television Quotas in the European Union", published in 1994, which concluded that quotas were an ineffective means of encouraging growth in the production sector and might actually have a negative effect.
(2) when he expects to (a) receive an official text from the Commission and (b) the House to receive a document on television without frontiers from the European Union.
Mr. Dorrell: The informal meeting of European Union Culture and Audio-visual Ministers in Bordeaux on 13 to 14 February discussed a number of issues of audio-visual policy, among which was the European Commission's review of the implementation by member states of the television without frontiers directive. There was a spirited debate on the European programme requirements of the directive's articles 4 and 5, which revealed a large measure of agreement against tightening the existing quota regime.
In the light of this discussion, the Commission has undertaken to try to bring forward proposals for a revised directive before the end of March.