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General Needs Index

Ms Corston: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what factors underlay the removal of (a) homelessness and (b) temporary accommodation from the general needs index. [592]

Mr. Clappison: We decided to remove those indicators because they do not provide a good measure of the need for investment in social housing. Homelessness figures say much more about the flow of people into existing social rented housing than about the need to build new homes; they are very volatile and their use in allocating capital resources can cause disruption to capital programmes; and they reflect different administrative practice in different local authorities.

Boulsbury Wood

Mr. Dafis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much public money he estimates will be spent in total to prevent the destruction of Boulsbury wood: who will receive most of the money; and what assessment he has made of the value for money of such expenditure. [374]

Mr. Clappison: A management agreement is a commercial arrangement between the nature conservation bodies and the recipient. The financial guidelines make it clear that details of such arrangements cannot be released. The National Audit Office report "Protecting and Managing SSSIs" concluded that agreements reached with English Nature complied with the financial guidelines.


Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many leaseholders in flats have to date been able to acquire the freehold of their homes under the provisions of part I of the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993. [312]

Mr. Curry: It is not possible to obtain comprehensive information on how many leaseholders in flats have been able to acquire the freehold of their homes, as enfranchisement is a private transaction between the freeholder and leaseholders.

Housing (Dudley)

Mr. Pearson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many new housing units were constructed by (a) the local authority and (b) housing associations in Dudley metropolitan borough area in each year since 1979. [580]

Mr. Clappison: Local authorities' primary housing tasks are now the efficient management of their own stock of housing and enabling other organisations to provide new housing. Housing associations are now the main providers of new social housing.

The publications "Housebuilding in England by Local Authority Area: 1980 to 1989" and "Local Housing Statistics" show estimates of housebuilding completions for each local authority area in England, including the

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Dudley metropolitan borough area. They show completions by sector, including activity by local authorities and housing associations.

"Housebuilding in England by Local Authority Area: 1980 to 1989" shows figures for the period 1980 to 1984. "Local Housing Statistics" shows figures for 1979 and later years: issue 59 covers 1979; No. 103 covers the years 1985 to 1990; No. 105 covers 1991: No. 106 covers 1992; No. 110 covers 1993; and No. 114 covers 1994.

Copies of these publications are in the Library.

Clean Air Act 1993

Mr. Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals he has to amend provisions contained in the Clean Air Act 1993. [130]

Mr. Clappison: As announced in "Cutting Red Tape", published in January 1994, the Government intend to repeal sections 4 to 13 of the Clean Air Act 1993-- formerly contained in the Clean Air Acts 1956 and 1968. They are no longer necessary in the light of changes in fuel use and the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Uranium, Caldecott

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has about the source of the uranium found on Poplar farm, Caldecott, Northamptonshire. [336]

Mr. Clappison: I have nothing further to add at this stage, to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin) on 27 October 1995, Official Report, column 817.

Contaminated Land

Mr. Dafis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much public money was spent on cleaning up contaminated land on inner-city development sites during 1994-95. [310]

Mr. Clappison: Public expenditure support for the redevelopment of inner-city and other sites--including, where necessary, the costs of dealing with contaminated soil--is made available under a number of different programmes. In England, these included in 1994-95 English Partnerships' investment fund, city challenge and urban programme; parallel arrangements exist in Wales and Scotland.

Funding to meet the costs of land remediation typically constitutes only one element of a wider package of support for individual projects under these programmes. The various different cost elements are not separately identified in centrally collected records, and it is therefore not possible to provide a detailed breakdown in the form requested.

Work-related Upper Limb Disorders

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many employees in (a) the public sector and (b) the private sector, have been diagnosed with work-related upper limb disorders during the years (i) 1992-93, (ii) 1993-94 and (iii) 1994-95. [1126]

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Sir Paul Beresford: Some types of work-related upper limb disorders are prescribed under the industrial injuries scheme. The number of cases in Great Britain diagnosed with at least 1 per cent. disability for the periods 1992- 93 and 1993-94 are shown in the table:

Cramp of hand or forearm116135
Beat hand1618
Beat elbow3842
Inflammation of tendons of the hand, forearm or associated tendon sheaths (Tenosynovitis) 911 800
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome20267

(1) Provisional.

Data broken down by private and public sectors are not collated in the form requested, and data for 1994-95 are not yet available.

The industrial injuries statistics cover only the most serious cases from a restricted range of occupationally defined upper limb disorders. From a survey based on respondents' own perception of the link between their occupation and ill-health, it was estimated that in the 12 months prior to March 1990, 110,000 people in England and Wales suffered from an upper limb disorder which they believed was caused by their work. This estimate was based on responses to a special set of questions in the 1990 labour force survey and covers a wider range of upper limb disorders and degrees of severity than the industrial injuries scheme.

Mr. Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many employers have complied with the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 in respect of the instructions to employers to (a) analyse VDU workstations, (b) assess the risks to health and (c) take action to reduce such risks; and how many employers have been prosecuted for not complying with the regulations. [1005]

Sir Paul Beresford: Information on the extent of compliance with the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 is not available in the form requested. However, the Health and Safety Executive has started work to evaluate the impact of the regulations. This has included a survey of employers. This evaluation is due for completion in 1996 and should produce information on the extent of awareness of, and compliance with, the regulations, and what actions employers have taken to comply.

The available figures for 1993-94 and 1994-95, provisional figures show that HSE's field operations division inspectors took no prosecution action under the display screen equipment regulations, but issued five improvement notices under these regulations. Equivalent figures are not available for local authority inspectors, who enforce health and safety regulations in premises such as offices, banks and shops.

Public Interest Immunity Certificates

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list all those in his Department who have authority to issue public interest immunity certificates; how many such certificates have been

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issued in each of the last five years; and what were the main reasons for them. [1423]

Sir Paul Beresford: The Secretary of State for the Environment has not in the last five years produced or authorised the production of any public interest immunity certificates in any legal proceedings.

Green Ministers

Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what assessment he has made of the advantages of having (a) a junior minister and (b) a Secretary of State as a Green Minister; [242]

Mr. Gummer: Green Ministers are appointed by the senior Minister for each Department who will look for whoever may best fulfill the role and combine it with other duties. There are no fixed criteria, and the appropriate level in the team may vary. The responsibility of the Green Minister in each Department is to ensure that environmental considerations are integrated into the strategy and policies of that Department.

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