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Infill Tax

33. Mr. Eric Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has met Scottish Power to discuss the consequences of the proposals to impose an infill tax on fly ash from coal-fired generating units in Scotland. [807]

Mr. Kynoch: In the course of a recent visit I made to Longannet power station, Scottish Power raised with me a number of issues including the implementation of the landfill tax proposal by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Departmental Staff (Duties)

35. Mr. Nigel Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will review the work of civil servants in the Scottish Office in dealing with matters affecting the political party in government. [809]

Mr. Michael Forsyth: The rules about civil servants participating in party political matters are clear and rigorously enforced. There is therefore no need for me to review the work of civil servants in the Scottish Office regarding such matters.

Historic Buildings (Restoration)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps is he taking to ensure there is an adequate supply of Scottish slate and other traditional building materials needed for the authentic restoration of Scotland's historic buildings. [195]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Since these are matters for Historic Scotland, I have asked the agency's chief executive, Mr. Graeme Munro, to write to the hon. Member as soon as possible. A copy of Mr. Munro's letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

22 Nov 1995 : Column: 166

Letter from Graeme N. Munro to Mr. Gordon Prentice dated 22 November 1995:

I have been asked to reply to your question to the Secretary of State for Scotland on the steps being taken to ensure the continuing supply of Scottish slate and other traditional building materials for use on Scotland's historic buildings.

    To obtain a comprehensive overview of Scottish stone supplies, and their potential for use in future conservation and restoration projects, a strategic study has been commissioned. This will involve examining ways in which the Scottish stone industry might arrest the decline in the use of indigenous stone, and give pointers to how this trend might be reversed.
    As no slate has been produced in Scotland since the early 1950s a major geological study into Scottish slate reserves has been commissioned from Glasgow University. A separate study by Dundee University will try to quantify the extent of change which has taken place through the use of alternative roof covering materials. Both studies aim to provide Historic Scotland with a strategic overview of the issues involved and with information which will assist decision makers and specifiers on the available, and future, potential for Scottish slate.
    Over recent years there has been a steadily increasing awareness of the significant damage being caused to historic buildings as a result of the inappropriate use of cement in repair work. Whilst a number of Scottish outlets still produce lime, none of that is readily available for use in building conservation work. To assess the quality of what is to hand, Historic Scotland has commissioned a scientific analysis of lime from 15 locations around Scotland. This information will be used to encourage industry to restart lime burning and slaking. If successful, this will greatly enhance the ability of specifiers to choose the correct material to undertake sensitive repairs on the exterior and interior of historic buildings.
    To assist in this process, Historic Scotland has recently published 3 relevant technical publications--
    Preparation and Use of Lime Mortars--Technical Advice Note 1
    Conservation of Plasterwork--Technical Advice Note 2
    The Repair of Historic Buildings in Scotland
    Supplementary publications, promoting the results of case studies into traditional lime harling and a Technical Advice Note on lime washing are also planned.
    As part of the associated education process, Historic Scotland recently held a successful international conference on lime. This attracted 170 delegates, with representatives from 15 different countries and was warmly received by practitioners and industry representatives alike.

22 Nov 1995 : Column: 167

    With a greater researched awareness of Scottish traditional building details has come a fuller understanding of the widespread use of earth and clay as an indigenous building material. Currently, Historic Scotland is researching this area with a view to producing a further technical publication. Our plan is that this should be launched at an international conference on the topic, due to be held at Dundee University in August 1996, in conjunction with the ICOMOS Out of Earth conference series.
    A similar increasing understanding of the wide variety of natural materials used in traditional Scottish thatching techniques has steadily developed in recent years. Much of this information has been rediscovered as a result of grant-aiding the repair of thatched buildings around the country under Historic Scotland's Historic Building Repair Grant Scheme. Presently, research is underway to analyse the practical aspects of these projects, and to link this to an increased historic understanding. The intention is to produce a Technical Advice Note on Scottish Thatch and Thatching Techniques by the end of 1995 this year.
    In taking a key role in the promotion of the need to use appropriate traditional materials, Historic Scotland is playing a major part through its Historic Buildings Repair Grant Scheme to pump prime the industry in this area. With repair and maintenance output in Scotland now amounting to over 40% of all construction spend in Scotland, this input has considerable influence. By promoting the results of its research programmes through publications, conferences, seminars and lectures, Historic Scotland also aims to take forward with industry, the professions, and the education and training providers, an integrated approach to the future development and use of Scottish traditional building materials.

Public Interest Immunity Certificates

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list all those in his Department who have authority to issue public interest immunity certificates; how many such certificates have been issued in each of the last five years; and what were the main reasons for them.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Public interest immunity certificates are authorised and signed by my right hon. Friend.

In 1993, two certificates were signed. Each related to proceedings in the Court of Session raised by a prisoner against the Secretary of State for Scotland. Each certificate concerned matters of prison security. In one of the cases, the certificate was produced in the court proceedings.

In each of the other years, no certificates have been issued.

Skye Bridge (Tolls)

Mr. Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will express the average toll charge per mile for a car in respect of the Skye bridge; and if he will make a statement. [237]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: [holding answer 21 November 1995]: The Skye crossing is approximately 1.5 miles long, of which the bridge itself is about 0.5 miles. A regular car user will pay £2.44 per crossing, equivalent to £1.63 mile. A car user at the non-discount price will pay £4.30 per crossing equivalent to £2.87 per mile. The tolls were fully discussed at the public local inquiry and are less than the pre-existing ferry fares.

22 Nov 1995 : Column: 168

NHS Staff Pay Rates

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what rate of pay increases have been negotiated for 1995-96 in respect of nurses and other employees subject to Whitley Council pay rates who are in the employment of Orkney health board and Shetland health board; and if he will make a statement [238]

Mr. Michael Forsyth [holding answer 21 November 1995]: Hospital doctors and dentists were awarded increases of 2.5 per cent. with the facility for further increases to be negotiated locally for those in the consultant grade. These enhanced rates have been in payment since April 1995.

Agreement has recently been reached that nurses and all other staff employed by health boards, except general and senior managers, will be awarded a pay increase of 2.5 per cent. on national rates, backdated to 1 April 1995, with the opportunity for further increases to be negotiated locally.

These increases apply to all staff not employed in NHS trusts and form part of a package which has, I am pleased to say, brought an end to the dispute over the 1995 pay award to NHS staff.

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