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Armed Forces: Attitude Survey

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Earl Howe: A survey into the attitude of members of the Armed Forces towards homosexuality was conducted as part of the department's recent homosexuality policy assessment, recommended by the High Court following the unsuccessful challenge made last year to the legality of the policy by four former Service personnel. The Armed Forces are, with certain qualifications where nationality and residence rules are concerned, Equal Opportunities Employers under the Race Relations Act 1976; we therefore see no requirement to conduct a similar assessment of the attitude of Service personnel towards the recruitment of ethnic minorities.

Civil Service Posts: Irish and Commonwealth Citizens

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Earl Howe: The Guardian article to which the noble Lord referred was correct in stating that Irish and Commonwealth citizens are to be excluded from applying for certain Civil Service posts. The article was no doubt prompted by the following statement made in another place by my right honourable friend, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 1st March:

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    1996 for posts which constitute "employment in the public service" will therefore be reserved for United Kingdom nationals and will not be open to Irish or Commonwealth citizens. Applications from citizens of these countries will from 1st June be treated on the same basis as those from citizens from other European Economic Area countries. The change will not affect the position of citizens of the Republic of Ireland and of Commonwealth countries already in post on 31st May 1996. Neither will it affect the position of candidates from those countries for recruitment schemes with a closing date for the receipt of applications before 1st June 1996.

    My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is making arrangements for changes to the rules for entry to the Northern Ireland Civil Service which will achieve the same position there in the same timescale."

There are about 132,000 posts in the Home Civil Service in the "reserved" category, amounting to about 25 per cent. of the total. Many of these will not be direct entry posts. Citizens of the Republic of Ireland and of the Commonwealth will continue to be eligible for recruitment to about 75 per cent. of Civil Service posts.

Water Industry: Competition

Lord Harlech asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will issue their consultation paper on proposals for promoting greater competition in the water industry.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Earl Ferrers): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has today issued a consultation paper on extending competition and customer choice in water and sewerage services.

Competition is the best guarantee for consumers that they receive value for money, better services and lower prices. The Government are looking to increase progressively competition in the water industry within a strong regulatory framework designed to ensure effective protection and enhancement of water quality and the environment. The proposals in this consultation document, Water--Increasing Customer Choice, mark an important step in this process.

In summary, the proposals, which have been developed in consultation with the Director of Water Services, would:

-- Introduce scope for water suppliers to compete for customers through the shared used of water mains. This "common carriage" arrangement would involve the use of an existing supplier's pipework by other suppliers in order to provide individual customers with a choice of supplier. Common carriage opportunities would allow any existing water undertaker or new supplier to

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compete for "large users" with a view to extending competition to other customers in the future.

-- Introduce safeguards to ensure that standards of water quality and reliability of supply are maintained and to enable the Director of Water Services to protect customers of the existing water undertakers.

-- Introduce similar common carriage provisions in the sewerage industry.

-- Extend the existing scope for "inset appointments" which allow a new water or waste water undertaker to be appointed to supply an area within an existing undertaker's area of appointment. Proposed changes would allow such appointment to be for limited periods only and increase the number of opportunities for their use.

-- Remove the existing restrictions on cross border supply to enable a water undertaker to supply water for non-domestic purposes to customers in the area of another licensed undertaker.

-- Remove the water undertaker's monopoly on making connections to the water main.

The Director of Water Services intends to issue a further consultation paper on the regulation of common carriage agreements.

Competition provides opportunities for customers to choose the combination of price and service which best meets their particular needs. Where such choice does not already exist, competition offers operators the opportunity to provide it where they believe it would be profitable to do so.

Copies of this consultation paper, on which comments are requested by 1st July 1996, have been placed in the Library of the House.

Railway Safety Inspections

Lord Clinton-Davies asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many inspectors were employed by the Health and Safety Executive on matters concerned with railway safety in each year from 1990 to date; and how many such inspectors they expect to remain in post during the coming year.

Earl Ferrers: The following table shows the number of inspectors employed by the Department of Transport in 1990, and by the Health and Safety Executive from 1991 to 1996 on railway safety matters.
1 April199026
1 March 199649

On present plans, the number of inspectors in 1996/97 will be broadly the same.

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Asylum Seekers: Local Authority Costs

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish any estimates they have received from local authorities as to the level of financial help that those authorities will require as a result of the recent changes in social security benefits for asylum seekers.

Earl Ferrers: Officials in the Departments of the Environment and of Health have invited local authority associations to provide estimates of the likely costs that local authorities, in England, will face. None has yet been received.

Single Room Households, Gloucestershire

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) how many households in Gloucestershire were recorded in the 1991 census as living in accommodation matching the definition of a single room in a shared house; and (b) how many young people are projected by Gloucestershire County Council to approach young single housing projects in the coming year.

Earl Ferrers: The number of households in Gloucestershire recorded in the 1991 Census of Population as having residents living in one room in a shared dwellings was 1,223. This figure includes a bedsit where there was only one self-contained dwelling in the building, but excludes one roomed flatlets with a private bath or shower, WC and kitchen facilities.

Information on projections by Gloucestershire County Council is not held centrally.

Hazardous Waste Directive

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What further action is needed to implement Council Directive 91/689/EEC as amended by 94/31/EC (the Hazardous Waste Directive).

Earl Ferrers: The Special Waste Regulations 1996 were laid before Parliament today and will come into force on 1st September 1996 and implement Council Directive No. 91/689/EEC on hazardous waste as amended by Council Directive 94/31/EC. These regulations replace the Control of Pollution (Special Waste) Regulations 1980.

The main provisions of the 1996 regulations are to:

- introduce new criteria for determining whether or not waste is special;

- require pre-notification of movements to the Environment Agency by consignment note;

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- provide better descriptions of wastes and their associated hazards by means of a revised design for the consignment note;

- simplify arrangements for repetitive movements and collection rounds;

- ban mixing by carriers and consignees of categories of special wastes, and of special with non-special wastes, unless for safe disposal;

- require periodic inspections by regulators of special waste producers; and

- introduce fees for many consignments of special wastes.

The new regulations contain a number of deregulatory initiatives, designed to make the system easier to operate while ensuring that special waste is soundly managed and safely reaches appropriate facilities. Provisions include specific criteria for determining whether or not waste is special, to keep to a minimum the number of wastes which will be subject to these regulations, consistent with the overall aim of securing adequate levels of environmental protection.

These regulations also introduce fees, in line with the "polluter pays" principle, to recover the costs incurred by the Environment Agencies for ensuring compliance with the regulations. A fee of £15 will be payable for most consignments. Consignments of automotive lead-acid batteries will attract a fee of £10 because they will be subject to lower levels of regulation.

Public consultation was carried out in March 1995 on the proposed regulations and accompanying guidance. The regulations have been modified to reflect the concerns and interests of industry, regulators and the public in response to those consultations. The Government are satisfied that these regulations will continue to ensure the environmentally sound management of special waste movements within Great Britain.

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