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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 11 November 1996


Illegal Drug Use Statistics

Mr. Flynn: To ask Secretary of State for the Home Department what new proposals he has to improve the accuracy of illegal drug use statistics. [2466]

Mr. Sackville [holding answer 5 November 1996]: Information on drug seizure and offenders, collected from police and customs, and statistics of drug addicts notified to the Home Office are published annually. The accuracy of drug seizure statistics is being continually improved by, for example, direct collection of figures from regional crime squads and automatic data interchange from police forces. Dug offender figures will also be collected by ADI via the court appearances system.

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Additionally, we have developed a more accurate way of measuring the extent of drug misuse in the general population which involves taking a large representative sample of adults and asking them to report on their own drug misuse.

The Department of Health issued guidance to the national health service in July 1996 on managing regional drug misuse database services.

Probation Service

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the Probation Service's budget (a) nationally and (b) in the west midlands for (i) 1997 and (ii) 1998. [2172]

Mr. Sackville [holding answer 7 November 1996]: The national revenue grant provision for the Probation Service in 1997-98, and the budgets for individual services, will be announced after the Chancellor's Budget statement on 26 November.

Mr. Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the budget for the Probation Service (a) nationally and (b) in the west midlands for each year since 1990; and if he will express the figures (i) in real terms and (ii) to show the percentage change on the previous year. [2167]

Mr. Sackville [holding answer 7 November 1996]: The information is shown in the table.

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Probation Service Revenue Expenditure

National Provision
(i) Real terms£274.5 million£276.7 million£312.1 million£318.7 million£332.8 million£321.9 million£323.7 million
(ii) Per cent. change
(year on year)--+0.8 per cent.+12.8 per cent.+2.1 per cent.+4.4 per cent.-3.3 per cent.+0.6 per cent.
West Midlands Provision
i. Real terms£17.6 million£19.5 million£20.1 million£20.5 million£21.3 million£20.6 million£21.3 million
ii. Per cent. change
(year on year)--+10.8 per cent.+3.1 per cent.+2.0 per cent.+3.9 per cent.-3.3 per cent.+3.4 per cent.

1. Figures are in 100 per cent. expenditure terms (ie including the 20 per cent. local authority contribution).

2. Real-terms values are calculated using the gross domestic product deflator, with 1990-91 as the base year.

3. To permit comparison, figures for 1995-96 and 1996-97 exclude devolved funding to support probation service partnerships with the independent sector previously funded separately by the Home Office.

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Lead (Guidance for Doctors)

Mr. Ian McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what specific improvements have been made to the operation of the appointed doctor system in relation to the dangers of working with lead; and if he will place the updated guidance for appointed doctors in the Library. [1443]

Sir Paul Beresford: The Health and Safety Executive has drawn up guidance for appointed doctors. The guidance is entitled "Guidance for Appointed Doctors" and was issued in July 1992. The guidance details the role and function of appointed doctors and provides guidance on their duties under specific statutory regulations. With respect to the control of lead at work regulations, guidance for appointed doctors in given on lead toxicity and

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poisoning, biological monitoring, medical surveillance, clinical considerations and employment of women of reproductive capacity.

A copy of the guidance has been placed in the Library.

Tracer Silt

Mr. Barry Field: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to extend the trials of tracer silt to the Solent and the shores of the Isle of Wight. [2595]

Mr. Clappison: My Department has not conducted trials of the type indicated. Tracer studies were conducted by Southern Water Services Ltd. as part of its investigations into the proposed long sea outfall for Sandown bay.

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Mr. Barry Field: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what size of served population gives rise to a requirement for additional sewerage treatment before the discharge into the sea; and over what period such population figures are calculated. [2557]

Mr. Clappison: Under the urban waste water treatment directive, sewage discharges with a population equivalent greater than 10,000 normally receive secondary treatment before discharge to coastal waters, but if the discharge is into a high natural dispersion area and it can be demonstrated that the environment will not be adversely affected, primary treatment may be sufficient.

Population equivalent is a measure of organic biodegradable load. The size of discharge is calculated on the basis of the maximum average weekly load entering treatment plants during a year and excludes the effect of unusual weather conditions.


Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will arrange for the publication of the full list of research undertaken by or on behalf of the Nuclear Industry Radioactive Waste Executive in regard to its proposed rock characterisation laboratory and nuclear waste repository near Sellafield; and if he will place copies of the reports in the Library. [2648]

Mr. Clappison: UK Nirex Ltd. has no proposals to construct a radioactive waste repository near Sellafield, but has applied to build a rock characterisation facility in order to help assess the suitability of the site as a possible location for a repository.

The company publishes its research reports. These reports, which are extensive, are available on request from the company. I have asked the company to provide the Library with a list.

Maintenance Work

Mr. Geoffrey Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the current backlog of maintenance in the publicly owned housing stock. [2796]

Mr. Clappison: The 1991 English house condition survey collected information related to repairs. This indicated that at 1991 the amount needed to bring the stock up to a good state of repair was £3.6 billion. A more up-to-date estimate will be available next year from the 1996 EHCS.

Newcastle City Council

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects the inspector's report into the unitary development plan of Newcastle city council to be published. [3081]

Sir Paul Beresford: The inspector's report on objections to the Newcastle unitary development plan is expected to be delivered to the council in early December this year. It will then be for the council to decide when to publish the report. I have asked the planning inspectorate's chief executive, Mr. Shepley, to write to the hon. Member.

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Letter from C. J. Shepley to Mr. Jim Cousins, dated 7 November 1996:

Energy Efficiency

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the advantages of increasing grants towards upgrading the energy saving standards of existing buildings; and if he will make a statement. [3192]

Mr. Clappison: Earlier this year, we published a consultation paper about our successful and well-regarded home energy efficiency scheme, which pays grants towards basic insulation of homes. Since 1991, this scheme has upgraded energy efficiency in almost 10 per cent. of the housing stock, and given average potential savings of around £40 annually to householders. Our proposals included making the scheme more responsive to the energy standards of individual homes by widening the range of energy efficiency measures available. We have taken account of the comments we received on our proposals, and hope to announce our plans for the scheme soon.

Specialised Dwellings

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the change in the number of specialised dwellings for chronically sick and disabled persons started and completed between 1979 and 1994. [1416]

Mr. Clappison: Estimates of housebuilding for chronically sick and disabled persons are shown in the publication "Housing and Construction Statistics". Figures for 1984 to 1994 are in table 6.7 of the annual edition; figures for 1979 to 1983 are in the annual edition for 1979 to 1989. Copies of these publications are in the Library.

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