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Waiting Lists

17. Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he will be taking to reduce NHS waiting lists in Wales before the end of 1997. [12391]

Mr. Win Griffiths: I am determined to reduce the waiting lists inherited from the previous Administration.

I have just announced a further £9.5 million of new money this year to tackle the pressures of winter emergency admissions. This is in addition to the £1.747 million also being provided this year to improve cancer services in Wales.

Roads Programme (Review)

19. Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what progress is being made on the review of the roads in Wales programme; and when he expects to make an announcement on the outcome. [12393]

Mr. Hain: The consultation period on the review of the trunk road programme ended on 31 October. Two hundred trunk road representations have been received and these are being assessed. It is too early to say when I will be in a position to make an announcement on the outcome of the review.

Nursery Education

21. Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement about the funding of nursery education for children who attend nurseries outside their local authority area. [12396]

Mr. Hain: The authority securing provision, whether within or outside its area, is responsible for funding it.

Economic Development (North Wales)

22. Mr. Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he next plans to visit north Wales to discuss economic development with local authorities, business and trade unions. [12397]

Mr. Hain: My right hon. Friend and I have no such plans at present. Pressure of business in the House will restrict the extent to which it is possible for us to undertake such visits. However, during the recess, I and my right hon. Friend and I have taken the opportunity to visit North Wales on many occasions and discussed economic development issues with numerous organisations, including the North Wales Economic Forum.

NHS (Cynon and Merthyr Valleys)

23. Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the Government's plans for the NHS in the Cynon and Merthyr valleys. [12395]

Mr. Win Griffiths: It is the responsibility of Bro Taf Health Authority to assess the health needs of people in these areas, and to plan and prioritise health care services within the resources they have available. They should do this in consultation with service providers, local authorities, the Community Health Councils and other interested parties. However, I am continuing to take a close interest in health care provision in these valleys.

5 Nov 1997 : Column: 237

Cardiff Bay Barrage

24. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the environmental impact of the Cardiff bay barrage project. [12399]

Mr. Ron Davies: A full assessment of the environmental impact was undertaken before work on the Barrage began. A copy of an Environmental Statement which supported the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill is available in the Library of the House.

Details of the environmental implications of the regeneration strategy are operational matters for the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation, which is responsible for producing environmental statements for specific projects and complying with environmental legislation.

Inward Investment (Newport)

26. Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has to visit Newport to discuss inward investment. [12401]

Mr. Hain: While I do not have any immediate specific plans to visit Newport, I am keen to see the area build on its enviable inward investment success and to see the benefits of this spread throughout Wales, not just through the encouragement of inward investment but through the growth of indigenous business too.

Windfall Tax (Hydwr)

27. Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made regarding the effect on ability to reinvest in infrastructure of Hydwr, formerly Welsh Water and Electricity, of the imposition of the windfall tax in the Budget. [12402]

Mr. Hain: My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made it clear that the Government does not expect the windfall tax to have any adverse impact on investment.

The company has also stated publicly that it remains committed to its current programme of discretionary capital expenditure.

Parliamentary Constituencies

28. Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received on the future number of parliamentary constituencies in Wales. [12403]

Mr. Ron Davies: None.

Local Government Finance

29. Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met representatives of local government in Wales to discuss local authority funding for 1998-99. [12404]

Mr. Ron Davies: I chaired a meeting of the Welsh Consultative Council on Local Government Finance on 27 October 1997.

Arms Trade

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what guidelines his Department has given to the Welsh

5 Nov 1997 : Column: 238

Development Agency with regard to sponsoring or otherwise supporting conferences in Wales aimed at encouraging trade in arms. [13325]

Mr. Hain: The Department issued guidelines covering each of the Agency's programmes in March 1995. Copies of the guidelines were placed in the Library of the House. Sponsorship and support for conferences, seminars and exhibitions is covered by the Agency's marketing guidelines. They do not specifically cover the Agency's involvement in activities related to defence industries. However, the Agency is aware of the Government's policy announced by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary which requires defence exporters to take account of ethical considerations.

Countryside Council for Wales

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he took to assess the experience and suitability of Mr. Bryan Riddleston of Celtic Energy before appointing him to serve on the board of the Countryside Council for Wales; and what other candidates he considered for the position. [13752]

Mr. Ron Davies: I followed the procedures set out in the code of practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments whereby applicants are considered by a panel with independent membership. This panel recommended the appointment of Mr. Riddleston. Mr. Riddleston was one of 14 candidates interviewed. A total of 167 applications were received for membership of the Countryside Council for Wales.

University Students

Mr. Opik: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the amount of university funding per student in Wales in (a) 1994-95, (b) 1995-96, (c) 1996-97 and (d) 1997-98; and if he will make a statement. [13226]

Mr. Hain [holding answer 30 October 1997]: Information on higher education funding per student in Wales for the financial years requested is as follows:





Countryside Council

Mr. Opik: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the status of the Countryside Council for Wales will be under his proposals for the Welsh Assembly. [14190]

Mr. Ron Davies: The Government's intentions are explained in its White Paper "A Voice for Wales". The Assembly will be able to review a number of non-departmental public bodies, and have the power to reduce their number further or merge them. However, the Countryside Council for Wales will not be subjected to this power in order to maintain its independence and its ability to meet the UK's European and other international obligations in nature conservation. The Assembly will, however, assume all the Secretary of State's responsibilities, including those of funding and appointment, in respect of the Council.

5 Nov 1997 : Column: 239

Cash Limits

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what changes he is proposing to make to the voted and non-voted cash limits for his Department and the Office of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in Wales in the current financial year. [14221]

Mr. Ron Davies: Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimates, I intend to make the following changes. The cash limit on class XIV, vote 1 will be reduced by £750,000 from £53,462,000 to £52,712,000 as a result of lower than expected claims for local authority coast protection schemes.

The cash limit on class XIV, vote 2 will increase by £13,594,000 from £785,732,000 to £799,326,000. This increase results mainly from the take-up of end-year flexibility entitlements for the Welsh Development Agency (3,400,000); the Grant Maintained and Voluntary Aided Schools captial programmes (£2,720,000), an increase to the provision for Regional Selective Assistance of £1,710,00 and a transfer of £577,000 from class IV in respect of the Competitiveness Fund. The increase also includes the £5,025,000 extra resources announced in the July Budget for schools capital. (This expenditure forms part of the Welfare to Work programme and is outside the Control Total).

The cash limit on class XIV, vote 3 will be increased by £4,074,000 from £437,196,000 to £441,270,000, (including an increase in the Department's running costs limit of £1,862,000 from £72,035,000 to £73,897,000). This increase is mainly a result of the take-up of end-year flexibility amounts for the Central Government Roads Programme (£1,545,000), IT costs (£603,000) and central administration (£2,161,000).

The cash limit on class XIV, vote 4 will be increased by £28,102,000 from £1,979,708,000 to £2,007,810,000. This increase results mainly from the take-up of end-year flexibility amounts of £8,000,000 for NHS Trusts and £10,000,000 mainly for GP Fundholders and the £9,548,000 additional resources recently announced for the NHS. The external finance limit for NHS Trusts has been increased by £8,000,000 from £44,914,000 to £52,914,00.

The cash limit on class XIV, vote 5 will be increased by £200,000 from £2,340,554,000 to £2,340,754,000 to enable the Valuation Office Agency to deal with the higher than expected demand for council tax and business rate appeals.

The cash limit on class XIV, vote 6 will be reduced by £400,000 from £10,105,000 to £9,705,000 as a result of lower than expected expenditure on Nursery place inspections.

There is also an increase to the non-voted local authority capital cash limit, WO/LACAP. This cash limit has been increased by £10,682,000 from £422,680,000 to £433,362,000 as a result of the take-up of end-year flexibility amounts, mainly to cover slippage on the Strategic Development Scheme and Capital Challenge projects.

All increases will be offset by transfers or charged to the Reserve and will not, therefore, add to the planned total of public expenditure.

5 Nov 1997 : Column: 240

A new non-voted cash limit will be introduced for the Capital Receipts Initiative (WO/CRI), subject to the passage of legislation, to cover the Government's initiative to release additional resources to support local authority spending on housing and housing associated regeneration. The limit on expenditure is set initially at £9,540.000. This expenditure is classified as being outside the Control Total.


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