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Local Government Finance

17. Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next intends to meet Glasgow city council to discuss local government finance. [45587]

Mr. Dewar: I consult the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on local government finance and am also in regular contact with Glasgow City Council.

Public Sector Housing

18. Mr. Welsh: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the level of investment in public sector housing in Scotland since 1990. [45588]

Mr. McLeish: We are already tackling the legacy of under-investment in housing which we inherited. We have committed an extra £66 million, including £45 million for New Housing Partnerships. We are also looking at housing investment within the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Higher Education

19. Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will meet Ministers in the Department for Education and Employment to discuss entry qualifications for higher education. [45589]

Mr. Wilson: I have no plans to do so; entry qualifications are primarily a matter for individual higher education providers.

Interest Rates

20. Mr. Swinney: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer regarding the impact of interest rates on the Scottish economy. [45590]

Mr. Wilson: I am in regular contact with the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the Scottish economy.

We are agreed that low inflation is in the interests of every part of the United Kingdom. Interest rates are set by the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England to meet the Government's inflation target of 2½ per cent.

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Schools (Early Intervention and

Literacy Programmes)

21. Mr. Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress has been made in introducing the early intervention and literacy programmes to Scottish schools; and if he will make a statement. [45591]

Mr. Wilson: Early intervention schemes are under way in all education authority areas in Scotland.

Minimum Wage

22. Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met the Scottish Trades Union Congress to discuss the minimum wage in Scotland. [45593]

Mr. Wilson: My right hon. Friend addressed the STUC Annual Congress on 20 April 1998 on a range of issues, including the proposed National Minimum Wage.

North Lanarkshire

23. Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on (a) the number of electors and (b) the amount of council tax raised per household in 1997-98 in the North Lanarkshire local authority. [45594]

Mr. Dewar: There were 246,452 persons on the electoral roll of North Lanarkshire at 16 February 1997.

The number of chargeable dwellings, on 7 October 1996, was 128,980. North Lanarkshire budgeted to raise £71.8 million in council tax in 1997-98, an average of £556.30 per chargeable dwelling.

25. Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland which committee of North Lanarkshire council is responsible for the direct labour organisation. [45596]

Mr. Dewar: The Construction Services Committee is responsible for the Direct Labour Organisation within North Lanarkshire.

Health Service

26. Mr. Chisholm: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he will issue guidelines concerning primary care trusts and local healthcare co-operatives. [45597]

Mr. Dewar: I have no immediate plans to issue guidelines. Development of primary care trusts and local healthcare co-operatives is being taken forward through local discussion and meetings. I do not wish to impose any central blueprint on that process but we have set up a central organisational development team, with a £1 million budget, to help Health Boards develop LHCCs.

27. Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the future configuration of national health service trusts in Scotland; and when he expects to introduce proposed legislation. [45598]

Mr. Dewar: Detailed proposals for new NHS Trust configurations are currently the subject of public consultation in each Health Board area. Subject to the outcome of public consultation, I expect to be in a position to take decisions about the new configurations in late summer. No new primary legislation is required to

23 Jun 1998 : Column: 482

establish NHS Trusts in Scotland to a new configuration. Legislation required to implement some of the proposals set out in "Designed to Care: Renewing the National Health Service in Scotland" (Cm 3811) will be introduced when a suitable opportunity arises.

North Sea Oil and Gas

28. Sir Robert Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what assessment he has made of the economic impact on Scotland of the Government's proposed changes in the North sea oil and gas tax regime. [45599]

Mr. Wilson: Any assessment will depend on the North Sea fiscal regime consultation document, which has yet to be issued. I am well informed on the importance of the oil and gas industry to the Scottish economy.

Export Initiatives

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met representatives of the Scottish Council Development and Industry to discuss export initiatives. [45595]

Mr. Wilson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I meet the Scottish Council Development and Industry from time to time to discuss a range of economic development issues. The Scottish Council is also represented on the Scottish Export Forum, which I chair and which met only the other week.

Skye Toll Bridge

Mr. Charles Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what account he took of Schedule 1 to the Skye Bridge Crossing Toll Order in allowing the sale of books of 20 discounted tickets for the Skye Toll Bridge. [46717]

Mr. McLeish: The Invergarry-Kyle of Lochalsh Trunk Road (A87) Extension (Skye Bridge Crossing) Toll Order (Variation) Order 1997 (S.I.1997/2941) was laid on 11 December 1997 and came into force on 1 January 1998. Under the terms of this Order, Schedule 1 to The Invergarry-Kyle of Lochalsh Trunk Road (A87) Extension (Skye Bridge Crossing) Toll Order 1992 (S.I.1992/1501) was varied to set lower base tolls for all categories of vehicles eligible for discounts and to provide for the sale of books of 20 non-transferable discount vouchers for motorcycles and cars. These variations implement the toll reductions announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 4 July 1997, Official Report, columns 288-90.

Ayrshire and Arran Health Board

Mr. Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will estimate the amount of additional funding which will be allocated to Ayrshire and Arran Health Board in 1998-99. [47080]

Mr. Galbraith: Ayrshire and Arran Health Board received a base general revenue allocation in October 1997 of £229.344 million for 1998-99. Subsequent allocations totalling £12.393 million have since issued, of which £1.482 million is attributable to the extra resources made available for tackling waiting lists. Further allocations will issue in-year as appropriate.

23 Jun 1998 : Column: 483

NHS Workers

Mr. Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals he has for the timetable to establish a uniform rate of terms and conditions for NHS workers. [47079]

Mr. Galbraith: We have a UK-wide approach to reviewing conditions of service. The Government are considering the overall picture and the options for the way forward.

Dounreay

Ms Roseanna Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland on what date the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate memorandum, a Summary of the Dounreay FCA Inspection Findings, was brought to his attention; what assurances he (a) sought and (b) received from the HSE that Dounreay was a suitable destination for the waste from Georgia; what action he took in response to the document; and if he will make a statement. [46784]

Mr. Dewar: The memorandum was brought to my attention by way of a letter dated 11 June 1998 from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). I advised that the full report should be published and this was done on 15 June. The report highlighted a number of concerns in respect of the Fuel Cycle Area which led to a programme of improvements. The independent regulators are currently conducting a comprehensive audit of the management of safety, which inter alia will examine the effectiveness of the improvement programme.

The report of the audit will be made public later this year. The recommendations emerging from that audit will be considered fully by Ministers in due course.

The HSE was consulted before it was decided to accept the Georgian consignment and was satisfied that the material could be stored safely at Dounreay.


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