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reductions in set-aside to take effect during this year. It is up to authorities to take advantage of these and to persuade us of the case for others.

I have been impressed by the strength and depth of partnership arrangements already established by many local authorities with the private sector. The changes I am now making will support those initiatives and give authorities even greater scope to harness the private sector's investment potential and management skills in delivering capital projects.

We regard this improved package of measures as just a start. We shall be looking at other areas of the capital finance regulations, in particular those relating to allowance of cost deductions from capital receipts before set-aside is calculated, with a view to further amendments later in the year.

I have arranged for copies of two documents which summarise the new measures--"New Private Finance Rules for Local Authorities" and "A Guide to Local Authorities' Interests in Companies"--to be placed in the Library of the House.

Local Government Finance

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the 10 English districts with the lowest total capital and revenue expenditure.      [14891]

Mr. Robert B. Jones [holding answer 22 March 1995]: Revenue expenditure and capital expenditure cannot be added together to give a "total" expenditure figure at an individual authority level. This is because some of the capital expenditure is funded from revenue. The available information is.

The 10 English Districts with   


Total Capital Expenditure in    




Oadby and Wigston   |1,120      

Epsom and Ewell     |1,187      

Castle Point        |1,276      

Rutland             |1,378      

Bromsgrove          |1,378      

West Somerset       |1,491      

Oswestry            |1,513      

Castle Morpeth      |1,514      

West Devon          |1,525      

South Herefordshire |1,606      

Total capital expenditure       

This is gross capital           

expenditure on all services,    

including housing, and includes 

expenditure reimbursed by       

grants and expenditure financed 

from revenue.                   

The 10 English Districts with  

the lowest net revenue         

expenditure in 1993-94-outturn 



Wellingborough     |171        

Berwick Upon Tweed |2,263      

Teesdale           |2,595      

Alnwick            |2,776      

Rutland            |2,859      

Oswestry           |2,995      

Tamworth           |3,035      

Christchurch       |3,227      

Purbeck            |3,278      

Leominster         |3,570      

Net revenue expenditure:       

This is expenditure on         

recurring items including the  

running of services and        

capital financing. It excludes 

spending funded by special and 

specific grants and income     

from fees and charges,         

interest, etcetera. This is    

the expenditure figure to      

compare to SSA.                

Mr. Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish a table showing, for each local authority in England, the latest available net revenue expenditure figures to compare with standard spending assessment, broken down by broad service block, in each year since 1990 91; and if he will place this information in the Library in personal computer spreadsheet readable format.      [14574]

Mr. Gummer [holding answer 17 March 1995]: I have placed the information in the Library of the House.

Housing Partnership Schemes

Mr. Barry Field: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what application he has had for housing partnership schemes from the Isle of Wight; and when he expects to make an announcement.      [15851]

Mr. Robert B. Jones: The Department has received three applications under the housing partnership fund from the Isle of Wight. The successful schemes for the 1995 96 housing partnership fund are being announced today, and I am pleased to tell the hon. Member that the Hansford store conversion scheme in Ryde is to be allocated £177,000 to redevelop part of a redundant furniture store into 15 flats.

Mr. Tredinnick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will announce the allocation of resources to local authorities under his Department's housing partnership fund for 1995 96.      [16204]

Mr. Curry: Some 220 schemes in 170 housing authorities will benefit from £30 million housing partnership fund for 1995 96. Councils continue to be very enthusiastic about the scheme. This year we received over 740 bids. The scheme demonstrates the Government's commitment to supporting imaginative high-quality housing projects which will be of long- lasting benefit to local communities.

The successful bids involve a wide range of innovative and valuable housing projects, which address local housing needs. This year we have particularly focused on schemes to bring empty properties back into use and those which effect major energy efficiency improvements. The schemes have been put together in partnership with the private sector, housing associations and other local organisations. The combination of public and private sector money means that up to £108 million will be invested to meet local housing need, help stimulate local economic growth and create jobs.

A list of the resources being allocated to local authorities under the housing partnerships fund for 1995 96 has been placed in the Library.

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Water and Sewerage

Mrs. Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State if he will list, by water company, the percentage 1995 96 price increase for water and sewerage charges for (a)

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domestic customers paying water rates, (b) domestic customers paying by water meter and (c) commercial customers.      [15782]

Mr. Atkins: The information relating to domestic customers is shown. Information about charge increases for commercial customers is not held centrally.

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Percentage change in Water and Sewerage Services 1995-96 on 1994-95                             

                                          Water                 Sewerage                        

                                         |Unmeasured|Measured  |Unmeasured|Measured             


Anglian Water Services Ltd.              |6.6       |2.0       |8.3       |4.5                  

Dwr Cymru Cyfyngedig                     |1.0       |0.3       |5.2       |4.2                  

North West Water Ltd.                    |6.3       |0.0       |7.3       |6.7                  

Northumbrian Water Ltd.                  |7.1       |0.2       |5.4       |5.7                  

Severn Trent Water Ltd.                  |2.5       |0.7       |7.5       |-2.1                 

South West Water Services Ltd.           |5.3       |-8.1      |5.3       |-9.3                 

Southern Water Services Ltd.             |7.7       |12.0      |7.2       |-0.1                 

Thames Water Utilities Ltd.              |4.3       |-1.0      |7.4       |-0.7                 

Wessex Water Services Ltd.               |6.2       |3.0       |4.2       |2.8                  

Yorkshire Water Services Ltd.            |2.3       |3.3       |14.0      |2.4                  

Bournemouth and W Hampshire Water Cos.   |1.6       |0.2       |-         |-                    

Bristol Water plc                        |6.4       |-12.6     |-         |-                    

Cambridge Water Co.                      |2.0       |-0.5      |-         |-                    

Chester Waterworks Co.                   |0.8       |0.0       |-         |-                    

Cholderton and District Water Co. Ltd.   |2.7       |0.0       |-         |-                    

East Surrey Water plc                    |2.2       |1.9       |-         |-                    

Essex and Suffolk Water plc              |7.2       |-13.4     |-         |-                    

Folkestone and Dover Water Services Ltd. |5.2       |2.9       |-         |-                    

Hartlepool Water plc                     |4.9       |-15.6     |-         |-                    

Mid Kent Water plc                       |4.0       |-1.7      |-         |-                    

Mid Southern Water plc                   |2.7       |-3.9      |-         |-                    

North East Water plc                     |2.4       |-2.0      |-         |-                    

North Surrey Water Ltd.                  |6.5       |-5.1      |-         |-                    

Portsmouth Water plc-April-March tariff  |2.9       |-6.5      |-         |-                    

South East Water Ltd.                    |2.3       |-9.6      |-         |-                    

South Staffordshire Water plc            |0.0       |-14.0     |-         |-                    

Sutton District Water plc                |2.0       |-16.1     |-         |-                    

Tendring Hundred Water Services Ltd.     |2.2       |-2.2      |-         |-                    

Three Valleys Water Services plc         |9.9       |-3.7      |-         |-                    

Wrexham and E Denbighshire Water plc     |1.0       |-4.2      |-         |-                    

Yorkshire Waterworks plc                 |2.3       |-13.9     |-         |-                    

PSA Projects

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what adjustments have been made to the value of the liabilities retained by Government following the sale of the former PSA Projects business.      [16475]

Sir Paul Beresford: Two reductions have been made to these liabilities in line with the terms of the sale agreement for PSA Projects. First, the limit on the Government's liability to contribute to the costs of redundancies of staff formerly employed in PSA Projects has been reduced by £800,00 to £39.5 million, as calculated by using the formula in the sale agreement. This follows a correction to the previously reported transferring staff total to 704. Secondly, there has been a consequential reduction of £200,000 to £4.34 million in the consideration adjustment due to the purchaser on the first anniversary of the sale.


Nerve Agent Destruction

Dr. Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of progress in development

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of the Silver II electro-chemical disposal method; and if he will make a statement.      [14407]

Mr. Soames: This is a matter for the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, Porton Down, under its framework document. I have asked the chief executive to write to the hon. Member. Letter from Graham Pearson to Dr. David Clark, dated 23 March 1995:

1. Your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Defence asking what assessment he has made of progress in development of the silver II electro-chemical disposal method and if he will make a statement, has been passed to me to answer as Chief Executive of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment.

2. CBDE, working in close collaboration with AEA Technology, has undertaken an initial evaluation of the efficacy of the silver II process. Extensive laboratory tests successfully demonstrated that the method is suitable for the destruction of a range of CW agents including nerve agent and mustard gas. A pilot plant at Dounreay has carried out extensive experimental work with simulants and it is planned, subject to funding approval, to build a similar plant at Porton Down this summer. This would be used to prove the technique on a larger scale using live agents. If this trial is successful, the plant could be used to destroy agent from old CW munitions found within the UK. The process has a number of potential advantages for the destruction of chemical agents. It is an

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intrinsically safe process as the procedure stops as soon as the supply of electricity is switched off and the process is carried out at relatively low temperatures ie below 100 C. The volume of effluent is minimal and, because the organic matter is totally oxidised, consists of an aqueous solution of inorganic salts. The method should allow complete decontamination of CW munitions, including their explosive content, regardless of their nature.

Northern Ireland

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the potential cost savings to the United Kingdom Exchequer of the withdrawal of troops from Northern Ireland.      [14842]

Mr. Soames: The units withdrawn from Northern Ireland remain on standby to return, should there be a resumption of terrorist violence. Significant cost savings will not arise until progress towards a permanent peace justifies permanent withdrawals.

Arms Exports

Mr. Alton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy towards the payment of commissions to those involved in the sale of arms to overseas Governments in respect of (a) civil servants, (b) members of the Government, (c) Members of Parliament and (d) relatives of Members of Parliament of the country concerned; and if he will make a statement.      [15054]

Mr. Freeman: The British Government do not pay commissions to those involved in arms sales. I cannot comment on other countries' requirements or conventions on the payment of commissions to their nationals.

Ethnic Minorities

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the number of black or Asian (a) warrant officers and (b) commissioned officers up to the rank of (i) captain, (ii) colonel and (iii) field- marshal or equivalent ranks serving in Her Majesty's forces.      [14899]

Mr. Soames: According to the results of the ethnic origin survey of the regular armed forces, based on the 57 per cent. of responses received as at 1 October last year the following numbers of personnel classified themselves as black or Asian:




Warrant officer or equivalent            |64   |40         

Commissioned officers:                                     

up to the rank of captain or equivalent  |59   |94         

Major to colonel or equivalent           |31   |66         

Brigadier to field marshal or equivalent |<1>- |<1>-       

<1> Figure less than 5. Where numbers are less than 5,     

figures are not given in order to avoid individuals being  


The first results of ethnic origin survey of the regular armed forces, giving percentage figures, have been published in the new tri-service personnel statistical return entitled "Ethnic Composition of the Regular Armed Forces", a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House.

Land Sales

Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list all surplus Ministry of Defence land sold in the last 12 months with the names of the

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purchasers; what surplus land is currently for sale; and if he will make a statement about his Department's policy towards the disposal of surplus land.      [15212]

Mr. Soames: My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence will write to the hon. member and a copy of the letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

HMS Sirius

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are his Department's instructions for the future use of HMS Sirius; and if he will make a statement.      [15444]

Mr. Soames: I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) on 15 December 1994, Official Report, columns 815 16. No decisions have yet been taken.

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when HMS Sirius was built and at what cost, together with the dates and costs of subsequent maintenance and refits.      [15445]

Mr. Freeman: HMS Sirius was accepted from the shipbuilder, HM Dockyard Portsmouth, in June 1966. Acquisition cost details for the ship are not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Dates of major maintenance and refits carried out on HMS Sirius are set out in the table. Details of routine and operational maintenance, and the costs of refit and maintenance work carried out before the royal dockyards passed into commercial management in April 1987 are not available. The total cost of her last major maintenance period, undertaken between October and December 1987, was some £1.2 million. The total cost of the final refit, undertaken between October 1989 and May 1991, was in the region of £25 million.

Major maintenane Periods

19 November 1967 to 5 January 1968

2 March 1970 to 23 March 1970

22 February 1971 to 19 March 1971

30 May 1973 to 22 June 1973

29 February 1980 to 31 March 1980

28 October 1987 to 11 December 1987


18 August 1969 to 12 December 1969

10 January 1972 to 26 May 1972

10 March 1975 to 10 February 1978

5 May 1981 to 30 June 1982

15 April 1985 to 6 December 1985

23 October 1987 to 19 May 1991

Empty Housing

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the number of unoccupied homes under the control of his Ministry as at 1 July 1994 and at 1 January 1995 in each local housing authority area in England, Wales and Scotland.      [15834]

Mr. Soames: The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Plymouth Airport (Training Flights)

Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the total annual cost to his Department

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for services at Plymouth airport in connection with Royal Navy training flights.      [15778]

Mr. Soames: The total cost of Royal Navy training flights at Plymouth airport is £626,000 per annum.

Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the need to carry out Royal Navy training flights from Plymouth airport; and if he will make a statement.      [15779]

Mr. Soames: There has been no recent assessment of the need to carry out Royal Navy training flights from Plymouth airport.

Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what will be the cost to his Department of Sea King helicopters using Plymouth airport in relation to sea training.      [15777]

Mr. Soames: The transfer of flag officer sea training from Portland to Plymouth in September this year will require the continuation of certain aviation support. Various options for the provision of the service are being investigated, including the use of civil aircraft under contract operating out of Plymouth airport, but comparative cost are not yet available.

RAF Training

Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what plans he has for the future of flying training in the Royal Air Force.      [16378]

Mr. Soames: Following the issue of consultative documents on 17 November 1994 recommending the closure of RAF Scampton and RAF Finningley, representations have been made by local authorities, Members of Parliament and members of the public. My Department has consulted thoroughly with the trade unions and those local authorities closely associated with the stations, and full and careful consideration has been given to all of the representations that we have received.

Following this work, I am satisfied that no issues have been raised which call into question the viability of the proposals, which satisfactorily meet out future flying training needs and save £23,000,000 per annum. I have therefore decided that both RAF Finningley and RAF Scampton should close in April 1996, and that all future non-fast jet fixed wing fixed flying training will be undertaken at RAF Cranwell and RAF Linton-on-Ouse.

We will, of course, continue to consult the trade unions about the detailed implementation of these measures.



11. Sir Peter Emery: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to ensure that there is sufficient abattoir capacity for farmers in Devon.      [13886]

Mrs. Browning: I know the area well. I know that the replacement of an old abattior with a new one will be welcome in east Devon..

Calves (Human Food)

14. Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make it his

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policy to ban the brain and spinal cords of calves under the age of six months from going into human food.      [13889]

Mrs. Browning: In a large experimental study of the pathogenesis of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle, no infectivity has been demonstrated in the brain and spinal cord in calves two and six months after oral challenge with a large dose of BSE-infected cow brain at four months of age. We would, of course, act in response to scientific advice if there were to be any new evidence.

Tobacco Regime

17. Mr. Barron: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what will be the total cost of the common agricultural policy tobacco regime in 1995.      [13892]

Mr. Waldegrave: The latest estimate is around £900 million.

Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowance

20. Mr. John Greenway: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he next expects to review the level of hill livestock compensatory allowance payments.      [13896]

Mr. Jack: Agriculture Ministers expect to review the rates of hill livestock compensatory allowances which will apply for the 1996 scheme this autumn, as part of the annual review of public expenditure.

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what consultations he has had with the farming unions about the payment of hill livestock compensatory allowances; and if he will make a statement.      [13879]

Mr. Jack: We invariably consult the farming industry before we determine HLCA rates or make any changes to the scheme and listen carefully to what it says.

Animal Welfare

21. Mr. Heppell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures he is taking to improve the welfare of livestock in the European Union.      [13897]

Mrs. Browning: In response to my right hon. Friend's request in January, the European Commission is bringing forward from 1997 to this year its report to the Council reviewing directive 91/629 on the welfare of calves. The resulting discussions in the Council of Ministers will provide the opportunity to press again for Community-wide standards which rule out the use of the veal crate, which has been illegal in the United Kingdom since 1990, I have visited Ministers in other member states to enlist support for our opposition to the veal crate and the response has, in many cases, been encouraging.

In the continuing Council negotiations on the welfare of animals in transit, we shall persevere in refusing to accept unsatisfactory compromises, and in pressing for a satisfactory Community measure which includes journey limits.

Animals (Human Genes)

22. Mr. Alton: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many animals were reared in the United Kingdom last year following the incorporation of

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human genes in their genetic make-up; and whether he will take steps to have food products marked accordingly.      [13898]

Mrs. Browning: The statistical information sought is not readily available. However, no animals containing copy genes of human origin have been cleared for food use in the UK. I can assure the hon. Member that if any such clearance was to be given, a labelling requirement would be imposed so as to allow consumers to make an informed choice.


23. Mr. Sutcliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he has taken to ensure that the minimum value rule for horses exported to continental Europe remains; and if he will make a statement.      [13900]

Mrs. Browning: Council directive 91/628 on the welfare of animals during transport contains a provision, for which we fought hard in the negotiations, which allows our national rules on the export of equines to continue. We shall resist very strongly any proposal to revoke or amend this provision.

EC Grubbing-up Scheme

24. Mr. David Evans: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the uptake of the latest EC grubbing-up scheme in the United Kingdom.      [13901]

Mr. Jack: The latest EC apple orchard grubbing-up grant scheme was open to applications in the UK during 25 October to 1 December 1994 and 13 to 31 January 1995. Some 318 applications covering 2,777 hectares were received. By the end of February, 260 covering 2,343 hectares, had been approved and 32 covering 133 hectares had been either rejected or withdrawn. The remaining applications were still being processed.

Approval of an application does not carry an obligation to grub. That is a decision for the applicant. Consequently, we shall not know the uptake of the scheme for several months.

Live Animal Exports

25. Ms Corston: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his estimate of the number of live farm animals exported from the United Kingdom for slaughter in other EU member states in (a) 1979 and (b) 1994.      [13903]

Mrs. Browning: Official trade statistics for the total number of livestock, in thousand head, exported from the United Kingdom to other EU member states are as follows;

                            |January to                 

              |1979         |November 1994              


Cattle        |505          |463                        

Sheep         |445          |896                        

Pigs          |37           |172                        

Poultry       |3,731        |19,642                     

These statistics do not distinguish animals for slaughter or for fattening. Figures for 1979 include exports to Spain, Greece and Portugal which joined the EU after this date, but all figures exclude exports to the member states that

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joined the EU in 1995. Figures for 1994 are provisional and are thought to under-record the true level of exports.

Rural White Paper

Mr. Tredinnick: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what response he has had to the rural White Paper consultation exercise.      [13889]

Mrs. Browning: We have received about 350 written submissions. Views have also been expressed in a series of regional and subject seminars.

Milk Quota

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to prevent speculators exploiting the shortage of milk quota in the United Kingdom.      [13899]

Mr. Jack: There is no evidence to support allegations of speculation in milk quotas. Milk quota may be leased only between producers who are registered with the Intervention Board; while quota may be purchased only by producers actively involved in milk production or by those who acquire, on a permanent basis, the land to which milk quota is attached.

Common Agricultural Policy

Sir Ralph Howell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the weekly cost of all agricultural support for a family of four in (a) 1965, (b) 1975, (c) 1985 and (d) currently.

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