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Mr. Tyler: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to ban the herbicide bentazole; and if he will make a statement. [5147]

Mrs. Browning [holding answer 11 December 1995]: There is no pesticide or pesticide active ingredient by the name of bentazole approved in the United Kingdom. The Government have no plans to ban the approved herbicide active ingredient bentazone.


Local Government Reorganisation

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what resources he will make available to authorities that have been or are to be reorganised on 1 April 1995, 1996 or 1997 for reorganisation costs incurred by them in 1995-96, and if he will make a statement. [3687]

Mr. Curry [pursuant to his reply, 29 November 1995, c. 733-34]: An error occurred in the figures given in the answer. The maximum amounts that it would be appropriate to allocate towards the amount of expenditure by local authorities on transitional costs of reorganisation in 1995-96 are:

Maximum amounts: £000 rounded

Authority 1995-96 Total 1994-95 and 1995-96
Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight Council1,7503,937
Cleveland County Council2,500--
Hartlepool Borough Council3,2003,748
Langbaurgh on Tees Borough Council2,5502,637
Middlesborough Borough Council2,1602,354
Stockton on Tees Borough Council2,9303,428
Avon County Council2,500--
Bristol City Council3,000--
Woodspring District Council3,250--
In Bath and North-east Somerset,3,000--
of which:
Bath and North-east Somerset Council1,810--
Bath City Council600--
Wandsdyke District Council590--
In South Gloucestershire,3,000--
of which:
South Gloucestershire Council1,800--
Kingswood Borough Council650--
Northavon District Council550--
Humberside County Council2,500--
Hull City Council3,000--
In the East Riding of Yorkshire,3,200--
of which:
East Riding of Yorkshire Council1,200--
Beverley Borough Council650--
Boothferry Borough Council300--
East Yorkshire Borough Council550--
Holderness Borough Council500--
In North Lincolnshire,2,900--
of which:
North Lincolnshire Council1,800--
Glanford Borough Council550--
Scunthrope Borough Council550--
In North-east Lincolnshire,2,950--
of which:
North-east Lincolnshire Mr. Curry1,900--
Cleethorpes Borough Council450--
Great Grimsby600--
North Yorkshire
North Yorkshire County Council1,000--
Rydedale District Council410--
Selby District Council510--
In York,3,000--
of which:
York District Council2,550--
York City Council450--

12 Dec 1995 : Column: 582

American Bullfrog

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to eliminate the threat to indigenous wildlife of the American bullfrog. [4731]

Mr. Clappison: The north American bullfrog is covered by the provisions of section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it an offence to release, or allow to escape into the wild, any animal which is not ordinarily resident in, and is not a regular visitor to Great Britain.

As a result of a small number of sightings in the wild this summer we are consulting English Nature, our statutory scientific advisers, to identify the scale of any

12 Dec 1995 : Column: 583

threat. Where sales outlets have been identified, the Department has made known the potential threat of such illegal releases.

Home Improvement Agencies

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans his Department has to increase support for home improvement agencies. [4710]

Mr. Clappison: We are increasing support for home improvement agencies from £4.25 million in 1995-96 to £4.8 million from 1996-97. This will enable grant support to be extended to more agencies across the country and ensure that the advice and help provided by agencies is available to more elderly and disabled people, and people on low incomes.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to introduce more severe penalties for the destruction of sites of special scientific interest. [4727]

Mr. Clappison: None, although we have agreed in principle to consider further powers for requiring the restoration of a site's special interest. The level of fines is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary.

Pensioners (Central Heating)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of pensioner households lack central heating. [4551]

Mr. Clappison: An estimated 19 per cent. of households headed by a person over retirement age lacked central heating in England in 1994-95.

This estimate is from the 1994-95 survey of English housing. Like all estimates from surveys it is liable to sampling variability.

Housing (Elderly and Disabled People)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, what measures he proposes to ensure that private sector building companies provide housing that meets the specific needs of people (a) over the age of 65 years and (b) the disabled. [4552]

Mr. Clappison: The Government consulted earlier this year on proposals to extend the requirements of the building regulations to help disabled people in new dwellings in England and Wales. The proposals are intended to identify a range of reasonable provisions which could be incorporated into new dwellings in order to allow future occupiers:

Over 1,000 responses have been received to that consultation, and these are at present being analysed.

12 Dec 1995 : Column: 584


Mr. Ian McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the permitted levels for the occupational exposure level of trichloroethylene following the decision of the Swedish Government to reduce permitted exposure levels. [4550]

Sir Paul Beresford: Trichloroethylene is one of the priority substances being reviewed under the European Union's existing substances regulation. The United Kingdom, through the Health and Safety Executive and the Department of the Environment, leads on this review, which will include a comprehensive risk review of all available scientific data on the human health and environmental effects of trichloroethylene. The conclusion of the review at EU level will help determine whether there is a need to revise occupational exposure limits. Trichloroethylene currently has a maximum exposure limit set under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1994.

Energy Efficiency

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what further steps he is taking to promote energy efficiency in industry. [4708]

Mr. Clappison: My right hon. Friend has plans further to encourage the efficient use of energy in the industrial sector through new initiatives such as a strategy for small and medium enterprises which is currently being developed under the energy efficiency best practice programme--EEBPP--and projects planned by the energy saving trust aimed at small businesses. These complement measures aimed at the industrial sector through the EEBPP and the making a corporate commitment campaign.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what recent estimates his Department has made of the cost of wasted energy through energy inefficient homes, offices and industrial buildings in the United Kingdom. [4716]

Mr. Clappison: In 1994, the last year for which figures are available, energy consumption in the United Kingdom housing, offices and industrial buildings sectors was worth about £17.5 billion. It has been estimated that around 20 per cent. of energy could be saved through investment in cost-effective energy efficiency measures.

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