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Crown Buildings in Scotland: Fire Certificates

Lord Howie of Troon asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie): At the end of the financial year 1994–95, 30 Crown buildings had yet to be issued with a fire certificate as illustrated in the following table:

Total Number of Certifiable Premises Total Number of Certificates Issued Premises without Certificate
Factories 32 31 1
Offices, Shops and Railway Premises 502 473 29
Hotels 3 3 0
Total 537 507 (94.4%) 30 (5.6%)

Church Buildings: Objections to Faculty Applications

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Viscount Astor): The Statutory functions of the Advisory Board for Redundant Churches are set out in the Pastoral Measure 1983 and involve the giving of relevant information and advice to the Church Commissioners. The board would not expect to become involved in any faculty proceedings as a "party opponent".

The national amenity societies have no statutory functions in relation to faculty jurisdiction. If an amenity society is opposed to a faculty application, it can make itself a "party opponent" and the Chancellor has a discretion to award costs against it. However, there are other ways in which the societies can make their views known on a faculty application without becoming parties opponent. None of these involves any potential liability for costs.

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Churches Conservation Trust: Administration of DNH Grant

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will reconsider their earlier acceptance of the recommendation in the Wilding Report that the Church Commissioners be given direct control over the taxpayer's 70 per cent. contribution to the preservation of those redundant churches which because of their historical or architectural interest have been deemed worthy of preservation in the interest of the nation by the Redundant Churches Fund (now the Churches Preservation Trust).

Viscount Astor: It remains the Government's intention to amend the Redundant Churches and Other Religious Buildings Act 1969 to enable the Department of National Heritage's grant to the Churches Conservation Trust to be paid through the Church Commissioners, who would take on the full responsibility for sponsoring the trust.

Redundant Churches: Preservation

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking, in the light of the unwise financial management recently revealed within the Church Commissioners, to ensure that no church which, because of its historical or architectural interest ought to be preserved in the interest of the nation, is either demolished or converted to unsuitable alteration use by the Church Commissioners for financial reasons.

Viscount Astor: Decisions on the future of redundant churches are made by the Church Commissioners in the light of all relevant factors. These include the advice of the Advisory Board for Redundant Churches, the opportunity for suitable other uses and the funds available to the Churches Conservation Trust for the preservation of important churches no longer required for regular worship. The Church Commissioners have agreed to ask my right honourable friend, the Secretary of State for the Environment, whether he wishes to hold a non-statutory public local inquiry into any proposals for demolition where reasoned objections have been lodged and have undertaken to accept a recommendation from him that a church should be vested in the Churches Conservation Trust. Funding for the trust is agreed by Parliament and the General Synod of the Church of England on a triennial basis. The Department of National Heritage maintains close liaison with the Church Commissioners and the trust and is satisfied that decisions on the vesting of churches in the trust continue to be made on a proper basis.

Leasehold Reform, Housing and Development Act 1993

Lord Terrington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in implementing the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 as far as leaseholders in blocks of flats in Central London are concerned.

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The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): Part I of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 came into force on 1 November 1993. The Government have no information as yet about the extent to which the new rights have been pursued, as enfranchisement and lease renewal are private transactions. Leasehold Valuation Tribunals have, however, issued decisions on three enfranchisement cases in London (none in central London), and seven lease renewal cases (two in central London) where the parties were unable to agree the price by negotiation. Fifteen enfranchisement and 34 lease renewals are awaiting hearings (three and nine in central London respectively).

Packaging Waste: Producer Responsibility

Lord Cochrane of Cults asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their proposals for producer responsibility for packaging.

Viscount Ullswater: When my right honourable friends the Secretary of State for the Environment and the President of the Board of Trade launched the producer responsibility challenge on 27 July 1993, they took the view that only industry could provide the leadership and know-how necessary to achieve a successful UK initiative on recycling and recovery of packaging waste. Nearly two years later that industry-led approach has enabled us to meet many of our key objectives. The Producer Responsibility Group (PRG) of leading businesses involved in packaging has achieved widespread industry support for its plan to secure the recovery and recycling of 58 per cent. of UK packaging waste and create close to home recycling facilities for eight out of 10 households by the year 2000. After extensive negotiation, in which the UK played a leading part, the European Community has adopted a Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive which we now need to implement.

A major challenge remains. In its first report, the Producer Responsibility Group made very clear that the initiative could not be successful without legislative underpinning to deter "free riders". Enabling powers to provide that legislative underpinning are included in the Environment Bill, now being considered by Parliament. But we need to specify precisely who in business will be subject to a legal obligation and what action is required to satisfy it. Such an obligation must be simple and clear if it is to be effective and enforceable—in industry's interests as much as government's. It must also be consistent with wider government policies, for example on ensuring competition and minimising burdens on business.

The Government are today publishing Producer Responsibility for Packaging Waste—a Consultation Paper, which sets out a variety of options on how such a legal obligation might work and includes a compliance cost assessment. Copies are being placed in the Library. These options have been the subject of lengthy and detailed deliberation by different industry groups in the light of the legislative tests set out in my answer to my

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noble friend Lord Gainford on 2 February [Official Report, cols. WA 124–126].

Several of the options have been put forward by the VALPAK—Working Representative Advisory Group (V–WRAG), the industry body which has succeeded PRG and which will continue to be a focus for discussions. Alternative approaches may emerge in consultation but they will need to demonstrate that they have been widely publicised in industry and tested against the same criteria as the options in this paper. The Government will need to make a decision to adopt a proposal based on one of these approaches and are keen to have the views of all sectors of industry and commerce, and others who will be involved in achieving our aims, including local authorities and consumers. What is most needed now is further work by the proponents of different approaches to help build a consensus behind the best option. The Government would prefer to proceed on the basis of a broad consensus on an approach which best meets the test we have published. We invite all those involved in the production, distribution and use of packaging to meet this challenge.

Homicides by Previously Convicted Murderers

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people have died since 1963 at the hands of previously convicted killers.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): During the period 1963 to date, a total of 75 persons in England and Wales are known to have been killed by persons who had previously been convicted of homicide.

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