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Cemfuel Burning (Health Effects)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what communication he has had with Lancashire county council concerning the health effects experienced by staff of the National Physical Laboratory when monitoring air quality at Moorland school and Waddington and West Bradford primary school in connection with the burning of cemfuel by Castle Cement. [12211]

Mr. Clappison: Lancashire county council has been sent a copy of the full report from the National Physical Laboratory. I have received no comments.

Mr. Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many National Physical Laboratory staff experienced (a) unpleasant odours, (b) respiratory effects and (c) eye or throat irritation during the air monitoring exercise at Castle Cement's Ribblesdale works between 7 August and 1 September 1995. [12213]

Mr. Clappison: Odour was detected by NPL staff on 10 occasions even though the measured sulphur dioxide levels were far below the generally accepted odour threshold. Respiratory effects and eye or throat irritation were each recorded on three occasions. On two of the occasions, respiratory effects were reported by one individual who is an asthma sufferer.

The threshold guide value for sulphur dioxide, published by the expert panel on air quality standards, at which the health of some people could be affected, was never breached during the four weeks of monitoring.

Mr. Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when authorisation was given for the burning of cemfuel by Castle Cement at Clitheroe; what account was taken of potential problems arising from plume grounding in granting authorisation; and what technical solutions have been identified. [12013]

Mr. Clappison: Castle Cement, Clitheroe had started burning cemfuel in 1992 under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. In 1993, cement manufacture came under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Clitheroe authorisation was continued. Plume grounding had not been identified as a problem at that time.

A variation to Castle Cement's authorisation, issued on 23 January 1996 requires Castle Cement to have agreed, with Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution proposals for resolution of the plume grounding problem by 30 April 1996.

Mr. Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what caused the odour detected by staff of the National Physical Laboratory during the air quality monitoring at Castle Cement's Ribblesdale works at Clitheroe during the period 7 August to 1 September 1995. [12214]

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Mr. Clappison: The detection of odour by the staff from the National Physical Laboratory was correlated with concentrations of sulphur dioxide above 50ppb. However, this is significantly below the generally recognised odour detection threshold. It was not possible to identify any one compound responsible for the odour.

Housing Bill

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what additional resources he will make available to local authorities in order to implement the proposals on (a) homelessness, (b) housing allocations and (c) advice contained in the Housing Bill; [12141]

Mr. Clappison: The provisions redefining the duty owed by local authorities to persons accepted as homeless and the accompanying reform of the allocation of social housing should not have a significant effect on central or local government expenditure. The effect will depend in part on the nature of the allocation schemes which local authorities establish in the light of principles to be prescribed by the Secretary of State in regulations. Expenditure on advisory services, where these do not already exist in a satisfactory form, should be fully offset.

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of additional demands for assistance under the provisions of the Children Act 1989 which may arise from homeless families refused assistance under the proposed homelessness legislation contained in the Housing Bill. [12146]

Mr. Clappison: There is no reason why there should be any such demand; the relevant provisions in the Housing Bill make no changes to the groups which have a priority need for accommodation.

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what assessment he has made of the change in the rate of use of properties in the private rented sector by local authorities under the provisions of the Housing Bill; [12147]

Mr. Clappison: We expect the private rented sector to continue to develop and to make an important contribution to meeting the housing needs of a wide range of households.

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what research his Department has (a) evaluated and (b) commissioned into the likely housing benefit costs (i) to central Government funds and (ii) to local authorities of the provisions of the Housing Bill. [12143]

Mr. Clappison: We have given careful consideration to the financial effects, including those relating to the cost of housing benefit, of the provisions in parts VI and VII of the Housing Bill. The Government consider that the provisions should not have a significant effect on central

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or local government expenditure. This will depend in part on the nature of the allocation schemes which local authorities establish in the light of principles to be prescribed by the Secretary of State in regulations. We will monitor local authorities' implementation of the provisions.

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether alternative accommodation in the private sector will be deemed suitable if rent exceeds the local reference rent under the provisions contained in the Housing Bill. [12149]

Mr. Clappison: Suitable alternative accommodation for the purposes of part VII of the Housing Bill would need to be affordable within the resources available to the applicant, including housing benefit where applicable.

Environmentally Hazardous Projects

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the implications for the rights of United Kingdom citizens to challenge potentially environmentally hazardous projects, endorsed by the European Commission, of the two decisions of the European court of first instance, case T-585/93 on 9 August 1995 and case T-219/95 on 22 December 1995. [11985]

Mr. Clappison: Citizens of the European Union, including UK citizens, who seek to institute proceedings against a Commission decision must show that the decision is of direct and individual concern to them, as required by article 173 of the treaty establishing the European Community and article 146 of the Euratom treaty.

In both of the cases referred to, T-219/95 and T-585/93, the European court of first instance found that the applicants did not meet the above requirements. In the case of T-585/93, that ruling is now the subject of an appeal in the European Court of Justice.

Water Authorities

Mr. Ian McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many people served on the boards of the (a) Anglian water authority, (b) Welsh water authority, (c) Northumbrian water authority, (d) North West water authority, (e) Severn Trent water authority, (f) Southern water authority, (g) South West water authority, (h) Thames water authority, (i) Wessex water authority, and (j) Yorkshire water authority, in the final year before each was privatised; [12186]

Mr. Clappison: Information about the number and remuneration of water authority board members in the year prior to privatisation is given in "Public Bodies 1989", issued by the Cabinet Office (Office of Public Service and Science). A copy of this publication is available in the Library.

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Mr. McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many people were employed by (a) Anglian water authority, (b) Welsh water authority, (c) Northumbrian water authority, (d) North West water authority, (e) Severn Trent water authority, (f) Southern water authority, (g) South West water authority, (h) Thames water authority, (i) Wessex water authority, and (j) Yorkshire water authority, in the final year before each was privatised. [12190]

Mr. Clappison: Manpower information for the water industry in the final year before privatisation is given in "Waterfacts 1989", published by the Water Services Association. A copy of this publication is available in the Library.


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