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14 Jun 1995 : Column WA115

Written Answers

Wednesday, 14th June 1995.

Homeless People in Bed and Breakfast Accommodation

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many otherwise homeless people are at present in bed and breakfast accommodation (a) through local authority placement; and (b) through self-placement.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): The latest figures show that 4,330 households accepted as statutorily homeless by English local authorities were in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation on 31 December 1994. Information about the number of people who have placed themselves in bed and breakfast accommodation is not held centrally.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the general standard of cooking facilities in bed and breakfast accommodation for the homeless.

Viscount Ullswater: Local authorities must, by law, have regard to the Homelessness Code of Guidance issued by the Secretary of State, which advises that bed and breakfast hotels used as temporary accommodation must conform to the regulations on standards for houses in multiple occupation.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What legal controls there are over service charges in bed and breakfast accommodation for the homeless.

Viscount Ullswater: There are no legal controls over charges which landlords can make for bed and breakfast accommodation, but there are limits on the amount of housing benefit payable to claimants in such accommodation. Housing benefit is generally only payable in relation to accommodation-related services.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider a licensing system for bed and breakfast accommodation for the homeless.

Viscount Ullswater: Most bed and breakfast hotels fall within the statutory definition of a house in multiple occupation. Following a recent consultation exercise, the Government are considering whether to introduce a licensing scheme for houses in multiple occupation.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any information on the average length of stay in bed and breakfast accommodation for the homeless, and on the destinations of those who leave it.

Viscount Ullswater: Preliminary findings from a research evaluation of the 1991 Homelessness Code of Guidance indicate that, in those local authorities reporting use of bed and breakfast hotels as temporary

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accommodation for households accepted under the homelessness legislation, the average length of stay was estimated as eight weeks. We do not have information about the destinations of households who leave bed and breakfast accommodation.

Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre: Agency Performance Targets

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What performance targets the Secretary of State for the Environment has set the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre Executive Agency for 1995/96.

Viscount Ullswater: The agency's principal target for 1995/96 is to achieve a net surplus of £3,000. Following several years of progressive reduction in the centre's operating deficit, it is possible this year for the first time to target a surplus. This is exclusive of rent of £6.4 million.

The agency's other key targets are: (a) to increase total revenue from £5.5 million to £5.8 million; (b) to reduce debt outstanding from clients for over 60 days to no more than £154,000.

A market test is currently in progress to determine whether there is any advantage to be obtained in contracting out the managing of the centre to a private sector company.

Agriculture Council, 29 and 30 May

Lord Cochrane of Cults asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Agriculture Council held in Brussels on 29 and 30 May.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): This meeting of the Council, at which my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food represented the United Kingdom, concentrated mainly on a proposal from the Commission for changes to the agri-monetary arrangements and on rules for the welfare of animals in transport.

No decisions were reached. The Council will return to both subjects at its next meeting on 19 and 20 June, when it will also aim to decide farm prices and related measures for 1995–96.

The Commission's proposal on agri-money would reduce the cost and scope of the compensatory measures accompanying any green rate revaluation that took place in 1995. It is the present rules on compensation which have led the Council and Commission to delay green rate revaluations that should have taken place, resulting in distortion of trade and excessive levels of support in the Community as a whole. My right honourable friend strongly supported the Commission's proposal. The German Minister, with some support from others, suggested alternative changes that would lead to permanent differences in payments to farmers in

different member states. My right honourable friend made clear that this would be wholly unacceptable.

The discussion on animal transport showed that member states are broadly agreed on the main lines of new arrangements, but still differ on the key questions of maximum journey times and the length of breaks between journeys. My right honourable friend welcomed the assurance from the French Presidency that they give high priority to this issue, and urged all parties to make great efforts to reach an agreement in June.

The Council formally adopted by majority vote, with Germany and Netherlands opposing, the measures necessary to implement the compromise decision on Italian, Spanish and Greek milk quotas, reached at the October meeting of the Economic and Finance Council. It also adopted unanimously a proposal fixing support prices for certain fruits and vegetables for June 1995.

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Banana Regime

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to preserve the present European banana regime.

Earl Howe: The Government believe that the European banana regime fulfils our obligations under the Lomé Convention to traditional ACP banana producers in the Commonwealth Caribbean and will seek, in the negotiations already under way in Brussels on the European Commission's proposals for amendments to the regime, to get the best possible deal for these producers and for UK consumers and companies.

VJ Day Anniversary March Past

Lord Fanshawe of Richmond asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which (a) British, (b) Commonwealth, and (c) foreign units are planned to march past Her Majesty The Queen down the Mall for the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of VJ Day in August.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): It is planned that the British military contingent shall comprise one hundred troops from each of the Grenadier Guards,

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Royal Gurkha Rifles, Queen's Colour Squadron of the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy or Royal Marines. As regards Commonwealth and foreign representation, we have sought the involvement of those countries whose forces served under the British Crown, including Commonwealth countries, the Dependent Territories, and others such as Nepal and Israel. In each case we have asked for a minimum contingent of three serving military personnel. Responses are still being received and it is too early at present to provide a full list. To these should be added the many representatives of civilian organisations who, because of their wartime contributions, will also march past Her Majesty The Queen.

Tobacco Tax Yield

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the total yield from tobacco taxes in (a) 1993–94 and (b) 1994–95 and what that yield represents as pence-in-the pound of income tax.

Lord Henley: The information requested is given in the table below:

Duty Vat(71395.4") Total tax
£ million £ million £ million
1993–94 6,520 1,580 8,100
1994–95 7,390 1,640 9,030

(1395.4") Value added tax has been estimated from Central Statistical Office figures for consumers' expenditure on tobacco.

This combined total of VAT as duty is equivalent to about 5 pence in the pound on the basic rate of income tax in both years.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is that total estiamted yield from tobacco taxes in 1995–96.

Lord Henley: The last published forecast for tobacco duties was in the revised 1995–96 Financial Statement and Budget Report (FSBR); we do not make separate forecasts of VAT on excise goods. A new forecast will be published at the end of June in the Summer Economic Forecast.

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