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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 6 June 1996

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Remand Prisoners

Mr. Bill Michie: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what action he intends to take to reduce the length of time prisoners are held on remand in custody awaiting trial. [30269]

Mr. Streeter: I have been asked to reply.

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 Michael Huebner to Mr. Bill Michie, dated 6 June 1996:


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ENVIRONMENT

Water Supplies

Mrs. Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what voluntary leakage reduction target each water company has set over the next five and 10 years. [27164]

Mr. Clappison: Pursuant to his reply 30 April 1996, Official Report, c. 420: The leakage target shown in the table for Dwr Cymru should read: "Aim to achieve a reduction of 17 per cent. by 2000 and over a third by 2010".

Environment Agency

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what guidance his Department has given to the Environment Agency in respect of (a) action to deal with foul water flooding, (b) abandoned mines water discharges, (c) flood alleviation and (d) unsatisfactory storm overflows; and what is the regional distribution of (a) (b) and (d). [30001]

Mr. Clappison: No guidance in respect of action to deal with foul water flooding has been issued by the Department to the Environment Agency. I understand that Ofwat holds information about the distribution of foul water flooding.

No specific guidance has been given to the Environment Agency regarding discharges from abandoned mines. The regional distribution of such discharges was described in detail in "Abandoned Mines and the Water Environment," a report issued by the National Rivers Authority in March 1994.

My right hon. and learned Friend, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, are responsible for policy on flood alleviation. The published "Strategy for Flood and Coastal Defence in England and Wales" provides a comprehensive framework for the Environment Agency to work within.

Guidance is being prepared to assist both dischargers and the Environment Agency in implementing the Urban Waste Water Treatment (England and Wales) Regulations 1994. It will include guidance on the limitation of pollution from storm water overflows. Information about numbers and location of unsatisfactory storm overflows will be held by the regional offices of the Environment Agency.

Sharks

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if the recent change in status of the basking shark under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources red list will affect the proposal to protect the species under section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 currently under review; and if he will make a statement. [31334]

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Mr. Clappison: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 8 May 1996, Official Report, column 134.

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee, the Government's statutory conservation adviser, will take account of all relevant conservation data, including the IUCN red list where appropriate, when considering which species should be protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as part of the third quinquennial review. The committee's recommendations to the Secretary of State are due to be submitted in October 1996.

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what programme of action his Department has to protect the basking shark under the EU habitats and species directive; and if he will make a statement. [31335]

Mr. Clappison: The basking shark is not listed in the annexes to Council directive 92/43/EEC--the habitats and species directive. Nor is it included in the list of species for which action plans will be prepared over the next three years under the United Kingdom biodiversity action plan.

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what work has been undertaken by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to assess the threats to the basking shark in United Kingdom waters over the last five years. [31337]

Mr. Clappison: The joint nature conservation committee and the Government's statutory conservation agencies have contributed funds to a number of research projects concerned with the status of the basking shark in British waters in the last five years.

These projects include acoustic tagging of basking sharks for tracking and monitoring, plankton and water quality sampling, and funding for a basking shark watch scheme. The JNCC has also supported several workshops which have brought together expertise and existing knowledge on basking sharks.

Housing Points

Mr. Barry Field: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to modify the Housing Corporation's advice on the granting of points for a local connection in line with amendments to homeless persons legislation. [30975]

Mr. Clappison: The Housing Corporation will be revising its guidance to registered social landlords about access to social housing in the light of the legislative changes currently before Parliament.

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received about the Housing Corporation ending the practice of associations awarding additional points for a local connection. [30976]

Mr. Clappison: The Housing Corporation has not changed its guidance on allocations. We have received no representations on this matter.

Pennington Sewage Treatment Plant

Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to ensure that the

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secondary biological treatment plant at Pennington is equipped with ultra-violet disinfection equipment by Southern Water Services. [31168]

Mr. Clappison: UV disinfection equipment is not required for secondary treatment. Secondary biological treatment when installed at Pennington will significantly improve the microbiological quality of the receiving water. Water quality in the area will be re-assessed once the new scheme comes into effect.


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