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Payment of Bills

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what percentage of bills to his Department were paid (a) in accordance with agreed contractual conditions and (b) within 30 days of receiving goods and services or the presentation of a valid invoice where no contractual conditions applied in the last year for which figures are available. [18810]

Mr. Hague: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend, the Economic Secretary, on 17 December 1996, Official Report, columns 507-8. Additional information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Primary Class Sizes

Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list by local education authority the number of classes in primary schools with (a) 31 to 35, (b) 36 to 40, (c) 41 to 45 and (d) 46 or more pupils for each of the last three years for which information is available. [18941]

Mr. Jonathan Evans: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) on 6 November 1996, column 514.

Inward Investment

Mr. Ron Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if the target area for the new Welsh Development Agency inward investment programme extends to cover the St. Asaph business park. [18987]

Mr. Hague: The St. Asaph business park is within the area which has been defined as the eastern A55 corridor.

Homeless Households

Dr. Strang: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) how many households have been accepted as homeless by local authorities in rural areas in Wales in each year since 1979; [18671]

Mr. Jonathan Evans: Information on the number of households accepted by local authorities as homeless is provided in the following table.

Number of households accepted as homeless

Rural Wales(9)Wales


Local authority returns.


(9) Aberconwy, Arfon, Brecknock, Carmarthen, Ceredigion, Colwyn, Delyn, Dinefwr, Dwyfor Glyndwr, Merionnydd, Monmouth, Montgomeryshire, Perseli Pembrokeshire, Radnorshire South Pembrokeshire and Ynys Mon district councils.

(10) The Wales total excludes data for Islwyn from October to December.

(11) Figures include estimates of 2,000 households made homeless in Colwyn as a result of the major flooding incident in February 1990.

(12) Figures include estimates of 237 households made homeless in Aberconwy as a result of the major flooding incident in Llandudno during June 1993.

6 Mar 1997 : Column: 727

Health Authority Funding

Mr. Richards: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what are his plans with regard to the current resource allocation formula for distributing resources to health authorities in Wales. [19566]

Mr. Hague: I intend to review the formula that is used to distribute resources between health authorities. Its aim will be to test, and, where possible, improve on, the existing approach and to ensure that resources are distributed to health authorities in the most effective and equitable way.

The review will examine the current weighted capitation formula, and, in doing so, will cover a number of issues including the incorporation of new resources of data that may improve our understanding of the relative health need of authorities, whether the current formula adequately reflects the geographical differences between areas, and whether it would be appropriate to take account of new factors.

The review will be led by a resource allocation working group consisting of members of the Welsh Office Health Department, health professional group and health statistics and analysis unit. Health authorities, trusts and GPs will be invited to play a full part in the review through membership of the working group. The group will also seek expert opinions and advice from across the service and other UK health departments as necessary. I expect the working group to report in November this year and to feed its results into the allocation process for 1998-99.

Housing for Wales

Mr. Richards: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what progress has been made with the sale of Housing for Wales's loan portfolio. [19567]

Mr. Hague: Contracts were exchanged with NatWest Markets yesterday which establish the terms on which the portfolio will be sold.

I cannot yet provide a final figure for the receipt because the purchase price is subject to changes in the portfolio itself and to movements in the gilt rate between now and completion at the end of March. A receipt exceeding the book value of £58 million was anticipated in spending plans to the current financial year, and will be realised.

6 Mar 1997 : Column: 728

The receipt will be subject to subsequent adjustment should any of the loan characteristics differ from those described in the contract in any way that results in a financial loss for either party. This was anticipated in the minute which was laid before Parliament on 10 February. No other warranty apart from the basic undertaking about the ownership of the loans has been given.


Social Housing (Waltham Forest)

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many new units of social housing have been provided in the London borough of Waltham Forest in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available.[18109]

Mr. Clappison: Housing associations are currently the main providers of new social housing. Local authorities' primary housing tasks are to act locally as strategic and enabling bodies and to manage their own stock efficiently.

The publication "Local Housing Statistics" shows estimates of housebuilding completions for each local authority area in England, as reported to the Department. This covers all the London boroughs, including Waltham Forest. It shows completions by sector, including activity by local authorities and housing associations.

"Local Housing Statistics" issue number 103 shows figures for 1986 to 1990; number 105 shows figures for 1991: number 109 covers 1992; number 110 covers 1993; number 117 covers 1994; and number 118 covers 1995. Figures for 1996 as a whole for individual authorities are not yet published.

Copies of this publication are in the Library.

Rock Characterisation Facility, Sellafield

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the effect of the proposed rock characterisation facility near Sellafield on the baseline hydrogeology at the site. [17976]

Mr. Gummer: This is one of the issues which parties to the planning appeal have raised, at the public inquiry and in subsequent correspondence, which I am considering.

Environmental Trusts

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what steps he is taking to ensure that the environmental trusts have sufficient resources to carry out their work effectively; [18572]

Mr. Clappison: Entrust is the regulatory body--appointed by Customs and Excise--for the environmental bodies scheme. There is an agreed formula to provide it with sufficient funding to carry out its work effectively.

6 Mar 1997 : Column: 729

The individual environmental trusts will, of course, be funded via the landfill tax rebate and a contribution from the landfill operator--the rebate is worth up to 90 per cent. of the amount donated subject to a ceiling of 20 per cent. of the companies total tax liability.

Responsibility for the environmental bodies scheme lies with Entrust. As of February 1997, Entrust has sent out 800 application forms and enrolled around 135 bodies. Entrust is aware of approximately £330,000 of donations and a further £1,500,000 of pledges that have been made to date.

Entrust is responsible for promoting the scheme and I understand that it is seeking marketing advice as to how it can best achieve this. Representatives of Entrust have spoken at numerous conferences held to promote the speedy development of projects.

Employers' Insurance Policies

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will make a statement on his review of the Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969; [18614]

Sir Paul Beresford: My Department is currently reviewing the Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969, including the problem of identifying the insurers of companies who have ceased to trade. I will announce the outcome of the review in due course.

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