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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 5 July 1995

TREASURY

Manchester Ship Canal

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has had from Manchester city council about protecting the Manchester ship canal from the possible impact of proposals related to a proposed landfill tax; what reply he is sending; and if he will make a statement.     [30995]

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: The leader of Manchester city council, Councillor Graham Stringer, who is also director of the Manchester Ship Canal Co., wrote to my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor on 15 June about the effect of the landfill tax on dredging operations. I replied on 4 July. Copies of the correspondence have been placed in the Library.

Brent Spar

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what Government tax subsidy was being allowed to the Shell UK company in respect of the sinking of the Brent Spar oil platform; whether it will still be eligible if the platform is broken up on land; whether this tax subsidy will be available to other oil companies when they wish to dispose of their offshore oil rig platforms; and if he will make a statement.     [31500]

Sir George Young: As with all other taxpayers, the tax affairs of Shell UK Ltd. are confidential between it and the Inland Revenue. Companies operating in the North sea can claim relief against petroleum revenue tax and corporation tax on the cost of decommissioning their offshore oil installations. In the case of Brent Spar, Shell has already announced publicly that it will forgo the tax relief on any additional cost if onshore disposal were to proceed.

Information Technology Contracts

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 21 June, Official Report , column 263 , if he will place in the Library details of those specific provisions designed to guarantee continuity of service in information technology contracts in the event of a transfer to another supplier or divert to the Department.     [31849]

Sir George Young: I am unable, on the grounds of commercial confidentiality, to place in the Library any details of specific provisions contained within the contract between Inland Revenue and EDS.

The negotiation of the contract between Inland Revenue and EDS took place in full recognition of the importance of the various constituent elements that ensure the


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continuity of service provided to the Inland Revenue and to taxpayers. Specific provisions have been made in the information technology service agreement to secure the computer equipment, software and expertise to ensure continuity of service throughout the contract period and beyond.

Conditionally Exempt Works of Art

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the average length of time that items from the register of conditionally exempt works of art spend out on loan to public galleries, museums and other similar places to which the public have access.     [31870]

Sir George Young: The information requested is not available as there is no statutory power to require owners to keep statistics of such of their conditionally exempt items as are on loan to public institutions to which the public has access.

Mr. Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many works of art which are conditionally exempted from inheritance tax or capital transfer tax are currently out on loan to public galleries and museums.     [31872]

Sir George Young: The information requested is not available as there is no statutory power to require owners to keep statistics of such of their conditionally exempt works of art as are on loan to public galleries and museums.

Council Tax Appeals

Mr. Denham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many appeals lodged by council tax payers are still waiting to be dealt with for each district value office in England and Wales.     [32326]

Mr. Nelson: The number of council tax appeals still outstanding as at 31 May 1995 with each listing officer in England and Wales is shown in the tables:


Council tax valuation list               

Valid proposals outstanding as at 31 May 

1995                                     

Region: Wales and West                   

Local office   |Outstanding              

-----------------------------------------

Bangor         |1,147                    

Barnstaple     |951                      

Bath           |1,372                    

Bristol        |1,922                    

Cardiff        |1,163                    

Carmarthen     |2,186                    

Exeter         |2,900                    

Gloucester     |1,575                    

Merthyr Tydfil |547                      

Newport        |331                      

Plymouth       |2,131                    

St Austell     |2,061                    

Swansea        |700                      

Taunton        |2,033                    

Wrexham        |1,095                    

                                         

Regional total |22,114                   


Council tax valuation list             

Valid proposals outstanding as at 31   

May 1995                               

National summary                       

Region         |Outstanding            

---------------------------------------

Central        |22,991                 

East           |24,785                 

London         |20,787                 

North          |13,018                 

South          |34,593                 

Wales and West |22,114                 

                                       

Total E and W  |138,288                


Council Tax valuation list               

Valid proposals outstanding as at 31 May 

1995                                     

Region: Central                          

Local office   |Outstanding              

-----------------------------------------

Birmingham     |946                      

Bolton         |845                      

Burnley        |1,164                    

Chester        |1,245                    

Coventry       |835                      

Crewe          |1,459                    

Kidderminster  |856                      

Lancaster      |981                      

Lichfield      |912                      

Liverpool      |1,364                    

Manchester     |625                      

Preston        |997                      

Rochdale       |465                      

Salford        |580                      

Sandwell       |138                      

Shrewsbury     |1,526                    

Stockport      |862                      

Stoke          |1,027                    

Warrington     |1,442                    

Warwick        |1,339                    

Wolverhampton  |273                      

Worcester      |3,110                    

                                         

Regional Total |22,991                   


Council Tax Valuation List               

Valid Proposals Outstanding as at 31 May 

1995                                     

Region: East                             

Local Office   |Outstanding              

-----------------------------------------

Bedford        |1,361                    

Cambridge      |1,319                    

Chelmsford     |1,751                    

Colchester     |2,695                    

Derby          |1,262                    

Grimsby        |1,153                    

Ipswich        |2,113                    

Leicester      |1,003                    

Lincoln        |1,172                    

Loughborough   |1,132                    

Mansfield      |761                      

Northampton    |1,138                    

Norwich        |2,404                    

Nottingham     |956                      

Peterborough   |1,608                    

St. Albans     |1,523                    

Stevenage      |1,434                    

                                         

Regional Total |24,785                   


Council tax valuation List               

Valid proposals outstanding as at 31 May 

1995                                     

Region: London                           

Local office   |Outstanding              

-----------------------------------------

Barking        |809                      

Bromley        |2,895                    

Camden         |1,173                    

City           |1                        

Ealing         |1,441                    

Enfield        |3,638                    

Greenwich      |1,771                    

Harrow         |1,391                    

Islington      |1,270                    

Kensington     |1,517                    

Lambeth        |1,616                    

Redbridge      |1,215                    

Tower Hamlets  |476                      

Westminster    |294                      

Wimbledon      |1,280                    

                                         

Regional total |20,787                   


Council tax valuation list               

Valid proposals outstanding as at 31 May 

1995                                     

Region: North                            

Local office   |Outstanding              

-----------------------------------------

Alnwick        |526                      

Bradford       |1,382                    

Carlisle       |734                      

Doncaster      |577                      

Durham         |560                      

Halifax        |1,233                    

Harrogate      |1,395                    

Hull           |1,470                    

Leeds          |868                      

Middlesbrough  |483                      

Newcastle      |317                      

Sheffield      |454                      

Sunderland     |352                      

Ulverston      |1,030                    

York           |1,637                    

                                         

Regional total |13,018                   


Council tax valuation list                 

Valid proposals outstanding as at 31 May   

1995                                       

Region: South                              

Local office     |Outstanding              

-------------------------------------------

Aylesbury        |2,260                    

Basingstoke      |2,135                    

Bournemouth      |2,216                    

Brighton         |1,206                    

Chatham          |1,470                    

Dorchester       |1,481                    

Eastbourne       |2,000                    

Folkestone       |1,546                    

Guildford        |1,456                    

Oxford           |1,891                    

Portsmouth       |965                      

Portsmouth (IOW) |651                      

Reading          |2,558                    

Reigate          |3,028                    

Southampton      |2,077                    

Swindon          |2,414                    

Tunbridge Wells  |2,663                    

Worthing         |2,576                    

                                           

Regional total   |34,593                   

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the reasons for the United Kingdom's opposition to EC draft 8205/94, calling for changes in excise duty on biodiesel.     [32162]

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: At the meeting of the Council of Economic Ministers--ECOFIN--in Luxembourg on 19 June, my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor noted that the proposal has been considered by the Council from time to time without making any real progress, and he suggested that the Council should not expend further effort on it.

The Government continue to find the proposal set out in EC draft 8205/94 unattractive for several reasons. We are opposed in principle to granting long-term tax subsidies to products which would not be financially viable without them. We are not persuaded of the agricultural, environmental or energy policy benefits of subsidising biofuels, and we remain concerned about the effect of tax subsidies on the market for by-products.

World Bank and International Monetary Fund

Ms Armstrong: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans the Government have to progress the recommendations for reforms to the World bank and International Monetary Fund, as outlined in the background paper to the communique presented at the recent G7 meeting in Halifax, Canada.     [32209]

Mr. Nelson: The proposals agreed at Halifax among the G7 for reform of the World bank and International Monetary Fund now need to be discussed by the entire membership of those institutions. The G7 recognises that changes will need broad support among the membership. The Canadian Finance Minister has written on behalf of the G7 to every governor of the two institutions, commending the proposals and seeking comments. The Government hope they will now be considered by the executive boards of the World bank and International Monetary Fund, and at the autumn ministerial meetings of the interim and development committees. The Government will also discuss the proposals in other forms, and bilaterally with other non-G7 countries. I hope, for example, that we will be able to have a useful exchange of views at the Commonwealth Finance Ministers' conference in October.

Investors' Compensation Scheme

Mr. Matthew Banks: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about the investors' compensation scheme.     [33089]

Mr. Nelson: The Treasury has today laid a minute to inform the House that the Treasury has issued a guarantee to the investors compensation scheme, ICS, for up to £17 million.

This wholly exceptional course, which I very much regret the need to take, results from the current judicial review case brought by Sun Life. This challenges certain regulatory rules made by the Securities and Investments Board, SIB, and the Personal Investment Authority, PIA, which is one of the self-regulating organisations recognised by SIB under the Financial Services Act 1986. Mr. Justice Collins yesterday gave


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Sun Life leave to proceed with the case, which will be heard on 23 to 24 August.

Because of the uncertainty created by this case, the PIA has decided, after taking legal advice, that it would not be prudent to levy its members to provide finance for the ICS as it would normally do. For similar reasons, the ICS board has also decided not to levy PIA members direct. Without the Treasury guarantee, the ICS would be unable to borrow commercially because of the same uncertainty about its ability to raise funds to service and repay loans.

The Treasury guarantee is for £17 million, slightly more than the £15.8 million ICS levy on the PIA, to cover interest which may be incurred and the legal costs associated with the court case. The Treasury will review the need for the guarantee when the judicial review case is resolved after the hearing in August. In the meantime, the ICS will continue to operate normally, making offers of compensation to investors who have lost as a result of defaults by investment firms, and declaring firms in default in order to trigger claims, as usual. Investors can be confident that this important safety net will continue to function properly, underpinning investor protection.

Extra-Statutory Payments

Mr. Morgan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 9 June, Official Report , column 339 , if he will list the agreed specific delegation level agreed with each Department for authorising extra statutory payments.     [28663]

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory [holding answer 15 June 1995]: The existing specific delegation levels agreed with the main Departments for authorising extra statutory and extra regulationary payments are set out. The limits reflect a number of considerations, including the nature of the payments that are likely to occur on a particular Department's programme and whether satisfactory ground rules can be agreed for dealing with them. The limits are kept under regular review.


Department                       |Delegation                                                     

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ministry of Agriculture,         |Full delegation                                                

 Fisheries and Food                                                                              

Cabinet Office (including        |£5,000                                                         

 OPSS)                                                                                           

Crown Prosecution Service        |Full delegation                                                

Customs and Excise               |Full delegation                                                

Ministry of Defence              |£250,000                                                       

Department for Education         |<1>Full delegation                                             

Department of Employment         |£5,000                                                         

Department of Environment                                                                        

-Local Government                |£10,000                                                        

-Housing and other               |£25,000                                                        

 Environmental Services                                                                          

Export Credit Guarantee          |£250,000                                                       

 Department                                                                                      

Foreign and Commonwealth         |£5,000                                                         

 Office                                                                                          

Home Office (including prisons)  |£20,000                                                        

Department of Health (including  |<2>Range from no delegation to                                 

 NHS Executive                   | full delegation depending on                                  

                                 | nature of expenditure item                                    

                                 | concerned                                                     

Inland Revenue                   |Full delegation                                                

Intervention Board               |£100,000                                                       

Lord Chancellor's Department     |Full delegation                                                

Department of National Heritage  |£25,000                                                        

Northern Ireland Office          |£50,000                                                        

Overseas Development             |£5,000                                                         

 Administration                                                                                  

Property Holdings                |No delegation                                                  

Property Services Agency         |No delegation                                                  

 Services                                                                                        

Scottish Office                  |Range from £750 to full                                        

                                 | delegation depending on                                       

                                 | programme.                                                    

Department of Social Security    |<3>£250,000                                                    

Department for Trade and         |No delegation                                                  

 Industry                                                                                        

Department of Transport                                                                          

-National Roads                  |£300,000                                                       

-Other                           |£1,000                                                         

Treasury                         |£1,000                                                         

Welsh Office                     |Range from no delegation to                                    

                                 | full delegation depending on                                  

                                 | programme.                                                    

Notes                                                                                            

<1> Except on teachers' superannuation.                                                          

<2> Except payments made under Section 5(3) of the NHS Act 1977.                                 

<3> Except the Child Support Agency.                                                             

ATTORNEY-GENERAL

Voluntary Organisations

Miss Hoey: To ask the Attorney-General how many voluntary sector organisations his Department has (a) paid grants to or (b) entered into contracts with in (i) 1993 94 and (ii) 1994 95 and what was the total value of these grants and contracts.     [31301]

The Attorney-General: The Crown Prosecution Service paid a grant of £20,000 to the Nuffield Foundation for its interpreter project in 1993 94 and a further grant of the same amount to the same organisation in 1994 95. The service entered into contracts with Shaw House and the Royal London Society for the Blind in 1993 94 under the sheltered placement scheme, the value to the organisations being the employment of disabled persons by the service.

NATIONAL HERITAGE

Voluntary Organisations

Miss Hoey : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how many voluntary sector organisations his Department has (a) paid grants to or (b) entered into contracts within (i) 1993 94; and (ii) 1994 95; and what was the total value of these grants and contracts.     [31307]

Mr. Dorrell: In 1993 94, my Department paid grants to 32 voluntary sector organisations. The total value of


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these grants was £832.420. In 1994 95, the number of organisations was 31 and the total value of grants was £874,731. My Department has no contracts with voluntary organisations.

Hotel Grading Schemes

Mr. Pendry: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how many hotels are included in the English tourist board's crown grading scheme; and how many are covered by the schemes operated by the Royal Automobile Club and the Automobile Association.     [32031]

Mr. Dorrell: The English tourist board crown classification and grading scheme covers 11,500 serviced establishments. This includes 3,500 hotels. The Automobile Association scheme in England covers approximately 5,500 serviced establishments, of which 3,019 are hotels. The Royal Automobile Club scheme includes some 5,200 serviced establishments throughout Britain, 3,400 of which are hotels.

Travel Claims

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will detail the amount of travel claims at constant prices his Department in (a) 1993 94 and (b) 1994 95 broken down by (i) public transport, (ii) car mileage allowance and (iii) bicycle allowance.     [32171]

Mr. Sproat [holding answer 4 July 1995]: The information requested for the Department of National Heritage, including the Historic Royal Palaces Agency, Royal Parks Agency, Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts and Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England is:


                  |1993-94 £|1994-95 £          

------------------------------------------------

Mileage allowance |30,734   |23,452             

Bicycle allowance |0        |0                  

The amount of travel claims by public transport could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Justices of the Peace (Cumbria)

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list the number of justices of the peace on the bench in each of the divisions in the county of Cumbria by (a) political or non-political affiliation and (b) by gender.     [32617]

Mr. John M. Taylor: The number of justices of the peace in each division of the county of Cumbria by (a) political or non-political affiliation and (b) by gender, on the latest information available, is:


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                      |Conservative    |Labour          |Liberal Democrat|Independent     |Not known/other |Male            |Female                           

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Appleby               |11              |1               |0               |0               |0               |6               |6                                

Carlisle              |33              |19              |12              |3               |11              |44              |34                               

Furness and District  |37              |8               |3               |3               |9               |34              |26                               

Kendal and Lonsdale   |16              |6               |8               |2               |5               |22              |15                               

Keswick               | 5              |1               |0               |0               |2               |4               |4                                

South Lakes           |11              |2               |2               |0               |1               | 7              |9                                

Penrith and Alston    | 8              |1               |5               |1               |3               |10              | 8                               

West Allerdale        |22              |8               |2               |1               |5               |23              |15                               

Whitehaven            |12              |5               |3               |4               |5               |16              |13                               

Wigton                |7               |1               |1               |0               |1               |6               |4                                

Voluntary Organisations

Miss Hoey: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many voluntary sector organisations his Department has (a) paid grants to or (b) entered into contracts with in (i) 1993 94 and (ii) 1994 95; and what was the total value of these grants and contracts.     [31299]

Mr. John M. Taylor: The Lord Chancellor's Department paid grants to two voluntary sector organisations in 1993 94 and to two in 1994 95. The total value of the grants was £195,000 in 1993 94 and £188, 000 in 1994 95.

The Legal Aid Board, a non-departmental public body, paid grants to 10 voluntary sector organisations in 1993 94 and 60 in 1994 95. The total value of the grants was £942,000 in 1993 94 and £2,377,000 in 1994 95. In addition, one law centre and one advice agency with a solicitor received payments under franchise contracts on a case-by-case basis.

Repossessions

Mr. Bayley: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many (a) proceedings were commenced to repossess homes and (b) homes were repossessed in (i) York, (ii) North Yorkshire, (iii) Yorkshire and Humberside and (iv) England in each year since 1979.     [31597]

Mr. John M. Taylor: The question concerns a specific operational matter on which the chief executive of the Court Service is best placed to provide an answer and I have accordingly asked the chief executive to reply direct.

Letter from M. D. Huebner to Mr. Hugh Bayley, dated 5 July 1995:

The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, has asked me to reply to your Question about repossession proceedings. The following charts show the total number of possession actions commenced in York County Court; North Yorkshire; Yorkshire and Humberside and England since 1987 (the earliest year for which data is available). As not all actions result in the issue and execution of a warrant of possession, I am unable to tell you how many properties were repossessed in this period. I have therefore included in the tables the number of possession orders made. I should add that the figures for 1994 are provisional and are consequently liable to revision to take account of any late amendments.


York County Court                                                       

                  |Actions commenced|Orders made                        

------------------------------------------------------------------------

1987              |335              |269                                

1988              |327              |238                                

1989              |368              |193                                

1990              |505              |314                                

1991              |577              |455                                

1992              |456              |405                                

1993              |346              |316                                

1994              |358              |274                                


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North Yorkshire                                                         

                  |Actions commenced|Orders made                        

------------------------------------------------------------------------

1987              |637              |475                                

1988              |527              |393                                

1989              |661              |401                                

1990              |1,030            |622                                

1991              |1,430            |1,005                              

1992              |1,119            |1,032                              

1993              |845              |764                                

1994              |764              |564                                


Yorkshire and Humberside                                                

                  |Actions commenced|Orders made                        

------------------------------------------------------------------------

1987              |7,777            |5,684                              

1988              |7,304            |5,046                              

1989              |7,380            |4,053                              

1990              |10,434           |6,794                              

1991              |14,146           |10,844                             

1992              |10,280           |8,934                              

1993              |8,447            |7,432                              

1994              |7,619            |5,474                              


England                                                                 

                  |Actions commenced|Orders made                        

------------------------------------------------------------------------

1987              |74,048           |45,836                             

1988              |67,729           |44,711                             

1989              |86,246           |50,267                             

1990              |137,714          |98,546                             

1991              |176,414          |135,490                            

1992              |134,574          |119,805                            

1993              |109,734          |99,388                             

1994              |83,516           |73,943                             

Asylum

Mr. Gareth Wardell: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many cases relating to political asylum in the United Kingdom were heard at the immigration appeals tribunal; and how many such appeals were successful in each of the last five years.      [31316]

Mr. John M. Taylor: Figures on asylum appeals were not kept prior to the enactment of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993. A separate figure for appeals by the Home Office was not kept until January 1994. The table sets out the available information:


Immigration appeal tribunal: Political asylum appeals                                      

                                                        Remitted for                       

                                                        hearing by a                       

                                                        different                          

Year                Heard       Allowed                 adjudicator                        

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1993 (August-Decembe21          5           11                                             

                                                                                           

                               |Claimant   |Home Office|Claimant   |Home Office            

1994               |285        |8          |3          |192        |13                     

1995 (January-May) |151        |11         |3          |90         |3                      

Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the total amount of funding allocated by his Department to Highlands and Islands Enterprise excluding objective 1 figures for development initiatives in (a) Argyll and Bute and (b) Kintyre for the years 1993 94 and 1994 95.     [30446]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The allocation of funds to specific local enterprise company areas for economic and social development purposes is the responsibility of Highlands and Islands Enterprise. I have asked the chairman to write to the hon. Member.

Temazepam

Mr. McMaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what are the criteria which he applies to reschedule drug substances under the terms of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971; how temazepam relates to these criteria; and if he will make a statement;     [31395]

(2) what further plans he has to reschedule temazepam; and if he will make a statement.     [31383]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: No rescheduling may occur under the 1971 Act except after consultation with, or on the recommendation of, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. The council is required to have regard to misused drugs which are having, or appear to it to be capable of having, harmful effects sufficient to constitute a social problem. The council has recommended that temazepam should be controlled under schedule 3 of the relevant regulations rather than schedule 4. The Government's careful consideration of this recommendation is continuing.

As my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council announced on 10 May, we are taking steps to impose safe custody requirements on manufacturers and wholesalers, and are engaged in consultations with a view to banning the prescribing by general practitioners under the National Health Service of the soft gelatin gel-filled temazepam capsules.

Health Care International

Mr. Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he was informed that an employee of Scottish Enterprise had been given leave of absence to become international marketing director of Health Care International in Clydebank; what reports he received on the outcome of the appointment in terms of contracts for the hospital; and when he received these reports.     [31347]


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Mr. Kynoch: The granting of leave of absence to an employee of Scottish Enterprise was an operational matter for that body, in respect of which there was no requirement for my right hon. Friend to be informed or to receive reports.

Mr. Stefan Kock

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland from whom Strathclyde police have received representations on the firearms incident involving Mr. Stefan Kock in Scotland in January 1990.     [32197]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Strathclyde police have received no representations in relation to this incident.

A74

Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will keep the name M74 when the A74 construction to motorway standard is completed; and if he will make a statement.     [32613]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 4 July 1995]: My right hon. Friend announced in November 1991 that, on completion of the A74 upgrade, the new motorway will be designated as the M6. However, until the whole route is upgraded, the upgraded section of the route will retain the "74".

My right hon. Friend recently announced that we intend to seek tenders later this year for the last section in Scotland to be upgraded between Cleuchbrae and Paddy's Rickle on a design, build, finance and operate basis and this should see the completion of the upgrade by the end of the century.

Council Workers (Redundancy)

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland for what maximum period of time compensation schemes for council workers made redundant by local government reorganisation operate.     [32185]

Mr. Kynoch: The compensation scheme provided under the Local Government (Compensation for Redundancy or Premature Retirement on Reorganisation) (Scotland) Regulations 1995 for any local authority employee made redundant as a result of local government reorganisation will be available until 31 March 1997. The period will, however, be subject to review in December 1996.

Tongue School, Sutherland

Mr. Maclennan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what action he proposes to take in respect of the school board of Tongue school, Sutherland.     [32657]


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Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: None.

Mr. Maclennan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what procedures apply when the parents of children attending a school indicate by a clear majority of all parents on successive occasions at a properly constituted meeting with the school board that they have no confidence in the board.     [32677]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Under section 30 of the School Boards (Scotland) Act 1988, whenever the requisite number of parents so request in writing, the school board must hold a meeting to enable parents to make inquiries and to discuss matters relating to the activities of the board and to make resolutions relating to the activities of the board. The board is required to consider any resolution passed at such a meeting. The requisite number of parents for the purpose of requesting a meeting is 30, or a number of parents equal to at least one quarter of those who were entitled to vote at the most recently held elections of parent members, whichever is the less.

Water Supplies

Mr. Gallie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to publish the report on the 10-year review of demands and resources for public water supplies in Scotland.     [33091]

Mr. Kynoch: A report has been published today by the Scottish Office Environment Department describing the


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outcome of the Department's third long-term assessment of demands and resources for public water supplies in Scotland carried out during 1994, previous studies having been done in 1973 and 1984. I have arranged for copies of the report to be placed in the Library. The report shows that, at the national and regional levels, resources are more than sufficient to meet average demands for public water supplies beyond 2016, the period covered by the study.

Strathclyde Passenger Transport Area

Mr. Gallie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what boundary he intends for the new Strathclyde passenger transport area following his recent consultation exercise.     [33092]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Following careful consideration of the responses received to the consultation exercise, we have concluded that the Strathclyde passenger transport area should cover the existing Strathclyde zonecard travel area, and the whole of the present Strathclyde supported rail network. This will ensure that the Strathclyde passenger transport authority and executive can carry out effectively its local transport responsibilities in Glasgow and the surrounding areas.

I have placed maps illustrating the new area in the Library of the House. I am making arrangements to lay the necessary designation order before Parliament.


Column 213

ENVIRONMENT

Pollution

Mr. Frank Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average proportion in poor quality air of pollution that comes from (a) car fumes and (b) industrial emissions.     [31412]

Mr. Atkins: Each episode of poor air quality has its own individual characteristics, so it is not possible to directly attribute the relative contribution that road traffic or industrial emissions contribute to air pollution incidents across the UK. However, detailed emissions inventories of the overall pollutant contributions of the various sectors are available. The table shows the proportions for NOx, SO2, CO and black smoke for London in 1991.


Percentage air emissions by sector for London in    

1991                                                

Figures are all rounded to one decimal place.       

Per cent.                                           

                 Pollutant                          

                                        |Black      

                |NOx  |SO2  |CO   |CO2  |smoke      

----------------------------------------------------

Road transport  |75.4 |24.5 |98.6 |32.5 |95.2       

Domestic        |6.5  |0.7  |0.2  |31.4 |0.1        

Commercial and  |11.8 |72.6 |0.2  |29.9 |2.4        

 industrial                                         

Other transport |6.4  |2.1  |1.0  |6.3  |2.4        

Home Improvement Grant

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimates he has of the number of home owners wishing to take up a home improvement grant who are unable to do so because of inability to afford the temporary accommodation required while the work in question is carried out; what assistance is available to them; and if he will make a statement.     [31906]

Mr. Robert B. Jones: The legislation for house renovation grants makes no specific provision to cover the costs of temporary accommodation for applicants while works are in progress. Local authorities may rehouse applicants under their discretionary powers in the Housing Act 1985, but correspondence to my Department suggests that many grant applicants prefer to stay in their homes while the works are carried out.

Ponds

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what measures his Department takes to protect and clean ponds; and what is the budget for these projects.     [32160]

Sir Paul Beresford: The Department supports a number of environmental grant schemes, such as countryside stewardship, which include provision for the creation or restoration of ponds. Under the Countryside Act 1968, local authorities can carry out pond restoration and creation, and under the rural action scheme, which is sponsored by the three countryside agencies, grants are available for environmental improvements, including the


Column 216

clearing of ponds. With regard to water quality, many ponds will be subject to the general pollution control functions of the National Rivers Authority.

Ponds are protected through a number of schemes and mechanisms, including some via the site of special scientific interest system under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is not possible to identify within the overall budgets the amount spent on protecting and clearing ponds.

Landfill Waste Disposal

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give details of the landfill waste disposal sites in Great Britain where environmental pollution problems have arisen in the last 10 years.     [32439]

Mr. Atkins: Landfill waste disposal operations in Great Britain are regulated by the waste regulation authorities. Information about pollution incidents at individual landfill sites is held by the responsible authority. A sample study carried out in 1990 by the Association of County Councils identified 11 cases in the previous 15 years where remedial action to landfill sites was required by waste regulation authorities.

Asbestos

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the guidelines followed by Government Departments in the use of asbestos or asbestos products in any building work taking place within Government-owned properties; and if he will make a statement.     [32671]

Sir Paul Beresford: The Department of the Environment, through the Property Holdings central advice unit, formerly property advisory services division, provides Government Departments with guidelines in the "Guide to Estate Management Responsibilities" and the "Housekeeping Guide for Accommodation Managers".

Drinking Water Inspectorate

Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when the fifth annual report of the Drinking Water Inspectorate will be published.     [32850]

Mr. Atkins: The Drinking Water Inspectorate published its fifth annual report today. Once again, it shows that drinking water in England and Wales is of a very high quality. In 1994, 99.3 per cent. of the 3.5 million tests carried out by water companies on drinking water met the relevant standard, compared with 98.9 per cent. in 1993.

The report provides a detailed picture of water quality in England and Wales which has been tested against the stringent criteria of the water quality regulations which incorporate the limits in the EC drinking water directive.

The inspectorate also published today two leaflets for consumers. "How Good is Your Drinking Water?", summarises the main points of the report. "About Your Water Company" gives brief details of the quality of drinking water supplied by individual water companies. Copies of the report and leaflets have been placed in the Library of the House.


Column 217

Manchester Ship Canal

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has had from Manchester city council about protecting the Manchester ship canal from the possible impact of proposals related to a proposed landfill tax; what reply he is sending; and if he will make a statement.     [30994]

Sir Paul Beresford: The leader of Manchester city council, Councillor Graham Stringer, who is also a director of the Manchester Ship Canal Co., wrote to my right hon. Friend about the potential impact of the proposed landfill tax on the company's dredging operations on 15 June. I replied on Tuesday 4 July. Copies of the correspondence have been placed in the Library.

Vanadium

Mr. Alan W. Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is estimated total annual United Kingdom emissions of airborne vanadium pentoxide: and what are the main sources.     [32003]

Mr. Atkins: Emissions of heavy metals into the atmosphere are not speciated by individual chemical compound type. This is because of analytical difficulties in determining the composition of fly ash on other than an elemental basis. There is, therefore, no information available on emissions of V2O5. Emissions of vanadium are not yet included in the national atmospheric emissions inventory. However, the Department's research programme includes work on vanadium and the results will be reported later this year.


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