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Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what regulations are currently in force in respect of the protection of human health and the environment from formaldehyde fumes. [9565]

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Mr. Clappison: The following legislation relevant to the protection of human health and the environment from formaldehyde is in force:

Housing (Single People)

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many households living in accommodation matching the definition of the single room rent assessment figure for housing benefit purposes were identified in the census of 1991; [9418]

Mr. Clappison: The information available from the census is for households occupying a bedsitting room. This is a wider category than that defined as a single room by the Department of the Environment and used by the Department of Social Security for housing benefit purposes, as it includes households who shared only one of the facilities of a toilet, kitchen or bathroom.

The relevant age breakdown in the census related to heads of households, and the "single, widowed, and divorced" category of heads of households and so included cohabiting couples and lone parents as well as people living by themselves, but excluded separated people living by themselves who were counted under the group "married heads of households".

There were 136,498 households identified as living in bedsits in Great Britain in the 1991 census, and of these 117,120 were people living by themselves.

The information by age available from the census was for the 121,355 single, widowed and divorced heads of household living in bedsits, as follows:

30-pensionable age46,192
Pensionable age and over11,581


1991 Census of population.

More up-to-date information on those living in rented accommodation in England is available from the annual survey of English housing.

Secondary Liquid Fuel

Mr. Dafis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which of the recommendations contained in the second report of the Environment Committee on the burning of secondary liquid fuel in cement kilns, HC497

18 Dec 1996 : Column: 609

of Session 1994-95 (a) have been implemented, (b) the Government have decided not to implement and (c) the Government are still considering. [8628]

Mr. Clappison: The Select Committee on the Environment is currently carrying out a further inquiry into the environmental impact of the cement manufacture. My Department's memorandum of evidence to the latest inquiry describes the extent to which the Committee's previous recommendations have been implemented. A copy of the memorandum has been placed in the Library.

Mr. Dafis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if the burning of secondary liquid fuels in kilns has been brought within the scope of the EU hazardous waste incineration directive; and if he will make a statement. [8629]

Mr. Clappison: The directive requires that the incineration of hazardous waste is subject to specified controls over pollution. Co-incineration plants, such as cement or lime kilns which burn hazardous waste, are within its scope.

Cammell Laird Shipbuilding Yard

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the number of fatal accidents at Cammell Laird shipbuilding yard in each year from 1966 until 1995. [9614]

Sir Paul Beresford: One fatal accident at the Cammell Laird shipbuilding yard has been reported to the Health and Safety Executive during the period 1986 to 1995.

Information Technology (Euro)

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what tenders his Department has put out to convert its information technology systems to be euro compliant; what are the cost and person hours required to convert the systems to handle the euro; and when he expects his Department's systems to be fully economic and monetary union compliant. [9460]

Sir Paul Beresford: My Department and agencies will need to assess the impact which a single currency, assumed to be starting on 1 January 1999, would have on their information systems whether or not the United Kingdom decides to participate in the third stage of economic and monetary union.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the specific spending pressures identified in the proposals of the local authority associations in the Consultative Council on Local Government Finance which have been recognised in his recent announcement on total spending for 1997-98. [9701]

Sir Paul Beresford: My right hon. Friend took into account all pressures on local government spending for 1997-98 as well as the scope for efficiencies. In forming his assessment of pressures, he had regard to the proposals which the local authority associations put to the Consultative Council on Local Government Finance. The provisional total standard spending announced by my right hon. Friend represents his view of the appropriate

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level of local authority spending in the round. It is not possible to identify how much has been included to meet individual burdens or pressures.

Mr. Rooker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the provision for 1996-97 in respect of recycling supplementary credit approvals for local authorities; and what was the equivalent figure in the current year. [9787]

Sir Paul Beresford: Planned provision for the recycling supplementary credit approval programme in 1997-98 is nearly £2.2 million, which we propose to devote to the promotion of home composting. The provision for 1996-97 is currently £10 million.

The reduction in the resources available next year reflects the additional funding for recycling which is likely to be available from capital challenge allocations, landfill tax environment bodies, our initiatives on producer responsibility for packaging waste and newspapers, together with benefits arising from the private finance initiative.

Air Pollution Control

Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many sites in England and Wales are subject to local authority air pollution control under the Environmental Protection Act 1990; how many have been granted authorisation; of these how many (a) have been visited and (b) have submitted a detailed upgrading plan to the enforcing authority within the required period; and how many authorisations have been granted to industrial sites after the relevant upgrading deadline date has passed. [9832]

Mr. Clappison: I refer the hon. Lady to the report on the first five years' successful operation of the local air pollution control system, which was published on 9 December and a copy sent to the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson). The report contains a statistical overview of the operation of the system, including the latest available information on numbers of authorised processes, and the results of a survey on upgrading. Information on process visits is to be collected for 1996-97.

Drinking Water

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list each occasion in the last five years when domestic drinking water was contaminated to an extent which was assessed by his Department as constituting a threat to public health; and if he will make a statement. [9775]

Mr. Clappison: There is a robust regulatory regime controlling drinking water quality administered by the drinking water inspectorate. Since 1990, there have been over 2,000 enforcement actions and some £2 billion of expenditure aimed at further improvements in drinking water quality. In 1995, the water companies in England and Wales carried out approximately 3.2 million tests on drinking water of which 99.5 per cent. showed that the relevant standards had been met.

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Water companies in England and Wales are required to report all incidents in which drinking water quality might be affected. All incidents are investigated by the inspectorate. Most incidents are relatively minor happenings.

In those cases in which the drinking water was chemically contaminated and where the inspectorate has completed its investigations, there is no evidence that the magnitude or duration of the contamination was such as to endanger public health.

Most cases in which there is bacteriological contamination are trivial and often involve the notification of advice to boil water to a small number of consumers while tests are undertaken on the quality. In most cases, the advice is found to have been unnecessary, but consumers have been given protection rather than potentially left at risk.

The most significant risk to drinking water quality is the presence of cryptosporidium oocysts. On cryptosporidium, the notification to the inspectorate can relate to either the detection of cryptosporidium oocysts in treated water, or to an increase of the illness cryptosporidiosis in the community or both. The transmission of the illness occurs in a number of ways and often through contact with animals. One recent outbreak of cryptosporidiosis was found to be associated with a failure of a milk pasteurisation plant.

All incidents are investigated fully by the drinking water inspectorate. As cryptosporidiosis can be transmitted in many ways, the source of any outbreak has to be established through epidemiology. A case of South West Water Services Ltd. allegedly supplying water unfit for human consumption because of cryptosporidium is currently before the courts.

Notifications of events involving cryptosporidium are listed in the table under four headings. It should be noted that not all notifications become confirmed as incidents.

Cryptosporidium oocysts detected in treated water but no reported increase of cryptosporidiosis

Water company areaDateLocation
Yorkshire Water19 December 1991Redmires
Southern Water19 March 1992Broadfields Water Treatment Works (WTW)
Severn Trent Water20 August 1992Fairholmes WTW
Southern Water8 September 1992Steyning WTW
Southern Water22 October 1992Testwood WTW
South West Water29 December 1992Broomhill WTW
Yorkshire Water5 January 1995Huby WTW
Yorkshire Water16 March 1995Fixby WTW
Essex and Suffolk30 March 1995Ormsby WTW
Yorkshire Water31 August 1995Cottingham adit
Yorkshire Water13 September 1995Kepwick Springs WTW (in raw water)
South West Water13 September 1995Parracombe WTW
Yorkshire Water5 January 1996Elvington WTW
Yorkshire Water10 January 1996Elvington WTW
Yorkshire Water15 January 1996Kepwick Springs WTW
South West Water29 May 1996Littlehempston
Cambridge Water30 May 1996Duxford/Linton
South West Water27 June 1996Crown Hill WTW
Mid Kent Water
Southern Water 3 July 1996Burham WTW

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An increase in cryptosporidiosis in the community but oocysts not detected in treated water

Water company areaDateLocation
Southern Water28 December 1990Thanet area
North West Water5 May 1992West Cumbria
North West Water27 March 1992Barrow in Furness
North West Water14 December 1992Warrington
Northumbrian15 June 1993Sherburn
North WestApril 1994Chorley

Both oocysts detected in treated water and an increase of cryptosporidiosis in the community

Water company areaDateLocation
Yorkshire Water13 November 1992Bingley and Shipley
South West Water12 August 1995Torbay/Littlehempston

Incidents still under investigation

Water company areaDateLocation
Wessex WaterApril 1993Poole
Yorkshire Water11 June 1993Gilstead
North East25 January 1996Sunderland
Yorkshire Water21 March 1996Tophill
North West Water29 April 1996The Wirral
Yorkshire Water17 October 1996Elvington WTW

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