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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 16 November 1990

ENERGY

Gas Disconnections

Mr. Riddick : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he intends to meet the Director-General of Ofgas to discuss the cut-off of gas supplies to consumers.

Mr. Moynihan : I regularly meet the Director General of Gas Supply and discuss a range of issues of mutual interest. We have noted that the level of disconnections for debt are at their lowest level since records were kept.

Energy Generation

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he has any new plans for the generation of energy ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Moynihan : Energy paper 55, "Renewable Energy in the United Kingdom : The Way Forward", published in 1988, set out the Department of Energy's strategy for the development of renewable energy to the year 2000. As stated in the Government's White Paper, "This Common Inheritance", my Department intends to carry out a review of its strategy next year.

Electricity Privatisation

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what provisions he will make to cancel the flotation of the electricity distribution companies and refund investors' cheques if war breaks out in the Gulf after first dealings day on 11 December.

Mr. Baldry : It would not be feasible to cancel the flotation after 11 December.

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy, pursuant to his answer of 12 November, Official Report, column 74, covering the period leading up to first dealings day, if he will make arrangements with the Governor of the Bank of England to refund money to small investors investing in the flotation of the electricity distribution companies, in the event of war breaking out in the Gulf after first dealings day on 11 December.

Mr. Baldry : We have no plans to do so.

Electricity Supply

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will discuss with the 12 chairmen of the area distribution companies a date for the replacement of the RPI-X formula for calculating the annual price increases for the franchise customers of the electricity supply industry.

Mr. Baldry : No. The arrangements for price regulation are specified in the public electricity supply licences and are overseen by the Director General of Electricity Supply.


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Sizewell B

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his most up-to-date estimate of the price of electricity from the Sizewell B nuclear power station in the period up to the expiry of the contract on 31 March 1998 with the Non-Fossil Purchasing Agency acting on behalf of the 12 regional electricity companies.

Mr. Baldry : The nuclear contract determines the price of output from all nuclear power stations, including Sizewell B. The details of this contract are commercially confidential.

Non-fossil Fuel Obligation

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy, pursuant to his answer of 12 November, Official Report, column 76, how many schemes submitted for inclusion in the renewable tranche of the non-fossil fuel obligation have not formed contracts with the 12 regional electricity companies ; and what is the total generating capacity of these schemes.

Mr. Baldry : Details of the projects initially submitted by generators for contracting within the non-fossil fuel obligation were given in a parliamentary written answer by my right hon. Friend the then Minister of State for Energy on 5 July 1990 at column 669, to which I refer the hon. Member. Details of the projects actually contracted were given in my parliamentary written answer of 30 October 1990, at columns 443-44. Those projects which proved not ready to contract under this year's renewables order will have a further opportunity under a renewables order which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State proposes to make next year.

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT

Rain Forest Conservation

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the value of work undertaken for the Overseas Development Administration on rain forest conservation by the Hydrological Institute at Wallingford.

Mrs. Chalker : The Institute of Hydrology is at present working on one rain forest project for the ODA. This is a study of the impact of deforestation on climate, which began in September 1990 in northern Brazil. It is supported by a £2.46 million grant under our technical cooperation programme with Brazil. The study is of considerable importance to the better understanding of the effects of deforestation on the climate. It has made an excellent start and I have every confidence in the institute's ability to carry it out successfully.

Rain Forests and Arid Land

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what extra aid, above that already earmarked is to be devoted to rain forest and arid land work, as a result of the Minister for Overseas Development's attendance at the Anglo-Brazilian environment conference in Brasilia, and Projecto Nordeste.

Mrs. Chalker : The conference was designed to be action-oriented in its outcome. The conference report will


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therefore contain a series of project profiles which will be made widely available for consideration by possible donors in the public and private sectors. The ODA will certainly be among those giving serious attention to these possibilities.

The ODA is also giving preliminary consideration to the Projecto Nordeste proposal recently presented by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and its Brazilian collaborators. It is a substantial proposal and will require most careful attention.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Local Authorities (Balances)

Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the balance in the general revenue account at the end of the year ended 31 March 1989 and 31 March 1990 in each of the 26 local councils.

Dr. Mawhinney : The information is as follows :


\\Balance in favour of general revenue account                

Council          |Year ending 31|Year ending 31               

                 |March 1989    |March 1990                   

--------------------------------------------------------------

Antrim           |1,403,138     |-<2>                         

Ards             |<1>486,799    |-<2>                         

Armagh           |588,583       |<1>641,617                   

Balleymena       |555,410       |<1>345,258                   

Ballymoney       |172,776       |<1>244,024                   

Banbridge        |422,603       |491,425                      

Belfast          |2,317,206     |<1>1,194,417                 

Carrickfergus    |<1>531,524    |<1>355,879                   

Castlereagh      |160,178       |<1>(324,000)                 

Coleraine        |526,084       |453,494                      

Cookstown        |690,229       |734,330                      

Craigavon        |1,134,976     |<1>1,271,489                 

Derry            |942,476       |989,296                      

Down             |600,462       |<1>785,166                   

Dungannon        |450,869       |<1>405,158                   

Fermanagh        |351,517       |337,264                      

Larne            |249,027       |<1>46,803                    

Limavady         |556,662       |<1>637,473                   

Lisburn          |587,269       |<1>1,189,860                 

Magherafelt      |44,297        |52,640                       

Moyle            |660           |<1>81,709                    

Newry and Mourne |<1>1,360,239  |<1>1,613,383                 

Newtownabbey     |<1>613,733    |<1>781,029                   

North Down       |421,703       |<1>190,762                   

Omagh            |25,707        |<1>7,932                     

Strabane         |<1>192,281    |<1>(84,721)                  

<1> Uncertified.                                              

<2> Not available.                                            

( ) Indicates balance against.                                

Fair Employment

Mr. Charles Wardle : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action he proposes to take to enable individual complaints of discrimination in employment to be properly examined.

Mr. Needham : I have written to interested parties seeking their views on what changes may be needed in the fair employment legislation to enable complainants to have access to the information which is necesary for a case to be fully considered and determined. A copy of this consultative paper has been placed in the Library.


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Ordnance Survey

Mr. Evennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about the application of next steps to the Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Mr. Brooke : The Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland has been indentified as a candidate for executive agency status. Drafting of the framework document has begun and work is under way to establish how soon the agency can be launched.

DEFENCE

TA Reservists

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list by year for the last 10 years the number of Territorial Army reservists who have (a) died and (b) been injured while on service.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : The information requested is not held centrally and can be obtained only with disproportionate cost and effort.

Low Flying

Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will introduce a system whereby RAF authorities warn areas in the flight path of low-flying aircraft in advance so that nervous and sick people can make preparations.

Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : I regret that such a system would not be practicable for routine military low-flying training which is conducted on a day to day basis, as weather and other considerations allow.

Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to control and cut back the number of low-flying aircraft circulating south-east Gwent.

Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : I have no plans to do so although the United Kingdom low-flying system is kept under continual review and changes are made when necessary, reflecting changes on the ground, and aimed at spreading low flying more evenly and enhancing flight safety, while at the same time reducing, where possible, the disturbance to those on the ground.

Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received from farmers in Wales concerning low-flying aircraft.

Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : Several such representations have been received by the Ministry of Defence over the past year.

RAF Hospital, Ely

Sir Eldon Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to provide facilities to compensate for the reduction in facilities for civilian national health service patients at the Royal Air Force hospital in Ely and to provide the hands on training of Royal Air Force medical personnel at the nearby former Royal Air Force hospital in Newmarket.


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Mr. Archie Hamilton : As I have previously announced, the Princess of Wales RAF hospital Ely will close by 31 March 1993. The regional and district health authorities are responsible for the provision of alternative facilities for NHS patients and we will be discussing appropriate arrangements for the rundown period with them. Royal Air Force medical personnel will continue to train in other Royal Air Force hospitals in the United Kingdom and abroad.

Air-launched Nuclear Weapons

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy on negotiations to limit air-launched nuclear weapons in the Atlantic to Urals region.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : There are currently no negotiations under way on the limiting of air-launched nuclear weapons in the Atlantic to Urals region. In common with our NATO allies, we seek to maintain the lowest and most stable level of nuclear forces needed to secure the prevention of war.

British Food

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it the policy of his Department and United Kingdom based defence establishments to purchase wherever possible British-produced food.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : The Ministry of Defence awards contracts for food items on the basis of the best compliant tender received in competition. In practice, almost all contracts for food items are placed with United Kingdom suppliers.

Exocet

Mr. Warren : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will review the exchange of information between the United Kingdom and France on counter measures to Exocet guided weapons ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : Exocet is in service with the Royal Navy. The information we have about the missile system has allowed us to develop counter-measures which can be employed by our forces if necessary.

The Gulf

Mr. Cyril D. Townsend : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he is making preparations for further deployment of British Forces in the Gulf.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : Following my right hon. Friend's visit to the Gulf, the Government is looking at options for deploying further forces to the area. Decisions will be announced soon.

As an immediate step, we will be reducing the notice to move for some army units and two mine countermeasure vessels as a contingency measure to ensure that any deployments can be made as quickly as possible once final decisions are made. Other possibilities remain under consideration.


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HOME DEPARTMENT

Strangeways Prison

Mr. Lewis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give a summary of the costs to be met by (a) his Department in relation to the incident at Her Majesty's prison Strangeways, Manchester earlier in the current year and (b) those costs which will fall on the Greater Manchester police authority.

Mrs. Rumbold : The costs incurred to 31 October 1990 as a result of the incident at Her Majesty's prison Manchester are £4.1 million. Of this sum, £3.55 million will be borne by the Home Office and £0.55 million by the Greater Manchester police authority.

Subversive Behaviour

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what definition of subversive is used by his Department ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Waddington : Subversive activities are generally regarded as those which threaten national security and which are intended to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means.

Immigration

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether being a bridesmaid constitutes compelling and compassionate circumstances under the current immigration guidelines ;

(2) whether being a bride or bridegroom constitutes compelling and compassionate circumstances under the current immigration guidelines.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Each case is considered on its merits, taking all the relevant circumstances into account. Paragraph 10 of the guidelines on handling of representations by members of Parliament in immigration cases gives examples of the sort of exceptional and compelling circumstances which would justify deferment of removal, but these examples are not exhaustive.

Incidents (Media Film)

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received urging that police requests for media film should relate only to cases where they are pursuing a specific arrestable offence and not to gathering intelligence ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I have recently corresponded on this subject with representatives of the media. It is for the courts to decide whether a police application for access to journalistic material satisfies the criterion that it is likely to be of substantial value to the investigation of a serious arrestable offence.

Small Shops

Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received over the current late night and Sunday trading


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practices of small shops ; and whether he has any plans to protect small shops from any prosecution under the Shops Act 1950.

Mrs. Rumbold : In the past three months we have received 13 petitions, with 11,285 signatures, from shopkeepers in support of the OPEN campaign to allow small convenience shops to trade in their full range of goods from early until late on seven days a week. We have also received eight letters of support through Members of Parliament.

The Government have no plans for early legislation to repeal the Shops Act 1950.

Police Activities

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from senior police officers concerning the implications of their forces' involvement with the poll tax collection system for their other police operations ; what indication he has of the costs to police forces of this poll tax involvement ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Home Office officials have been in contact with the Association of Chief Police Officers about the resource implications of police involvement with enforcement of the community charge. However, it is anticipated that, as with the rates system, that involvement will be limited and no central assessment of the costs has been made.

Woking Parks and Pleasure Grounds

Mr. Onslow : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to approve the draft byelaws relating to parks and pleasure grounds which have been submitted to him by Woking borough council.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Home Office officials wrote to Woking borough council on 5 October, asking for a number of minor amendments to be made to the draft byelaws. If the council agrees to these changes and submits a revised draft, we shall then be able to give provisional approval to the byelaws.

EDUCATION AND SCIENCE

Schools (North Yorkshire)

Mr. Caborn : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many staff and pupils there are in north Yorkshire education authority's schools.

Mr. Fallon : The information requested for maintained nursery, primary and secondary schools in north Yorkshire education authority in January 1990 is as follows :


            |Full-time              

            |equivalents            

------------------------------------

Staff<1><2> |5,590.4                

Pupils<3>   |96,906.0               

<1>Total number of full-time        

equivalent teachers employed by the 

local education authority including 

student teachers and instructors.   

<2>Excluding non-teaching staff.    

Information on non-teaching staff   

is not available centrally.         

<3>Numbers of pupils in 1990 is     

provisional.                        


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Education Committees

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what guidance he has given as to whether, under sections 13 and 15 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, in determining political balance on an education committee of a local education authority a council should treat non-elected members of the committee as members of (a) the opposition, (b) the majority party or (c) an addition to both.

Mr. Fallon : Non-elected members of an education committee are not members of the authority. They are disregarded for the purposes of determining the proportion of seats allocated to political groups in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 and of the Local Government (Committees and Political Groups) Regulations 1990. Where, however, a political group has a majority of seats on an authority, that group is entitled to a majority over all other voting members (elected and non-elected) on the education committee.

Local Education Authority Staff

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will rank, for the latest year for which figures are available, by order, the percentage of non-teaching staff as a proportion of total staff in each local authority education department together with the following information (a) total teachers, (b) total non-teachers, (c) central administrative staff and (d) the percentage of school budgets retained by the local education authority from total spending on schools.

Mr. Fallon : Numbers of non-teaching staff employed in local authority education are collected quarterly by the joint staffing watch, managed by a group of representatives of local and central Government. The group publishes a joint press notice with DOE giving national figures and local authority employment totals, but these are not broken down by service in individual authorities. Agreement to publish the individual figures has been withheld in the past, by members of the group, but will be now sought with urgency. When permission is forthcoming, the full analysis will be placed in the Library.

Total teacher numbers for each local education authority in England are given in the Department of Education and Science Statistical Bulletin 5/90, available in the Library. The budget statements for 1990-91, published under section 42 of the Education Reform Act, give details of each local education authority's spending on central administration and other items. These details are being placed in the Library.

THE ARTS

Regional Arts Associations

Sir Thomas Arnold : To ask the Minister for the Arts what representations he has received about the future role and structure of the regional arts associations.

Mr. Mellor : I have received representations from a wide range of organisations and individuals about the proposals I announced on 24 September for strengthening the


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effectiveness and accountability of the new regional arts boards to take on extended responsibilities for grant-giving. I have also received representations from leading arts organisations and individuals about proposals from leading arts organisations and individuals about proposals for the devolution of some Arts Council clients to the new RABs. I am awaiting advice from the Arts Council on both issues before taking final decisions.

TRANSPORT

M11 Link Road

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what regard he had in approving expenditure on bridge 230 at Dyers Hall road and the re-routing of the gas mains along Cambridge Park road and at the Green Man, to the fact that the decision to build the M11 link road has not yet been taken, pending the outcome of the recent public inquiry ;

(2) what is the cost of (a) building Bridge 230 at Dyers Hall road and (b) re-routing of the gas mains along Cambridge Park road and at the Green Man in preparation for the building of the M11 link road in east London ; and who will bear the cost if the proposed link road is not authorised.

Mr. Chope : The decision to build the link road was taken when orders confirming the line of the new road were made following public inquiries held in 1983 and 1987. The recent public inquiry was solely into objections to the acquisition of land and rights including open space required to construct the link road.

My Department is bearing the costs of the advance works and these are estimated at (a) £2.007 million VAT for the reconstruction of bridge 230 ; and (b) £1.13 million VAT for the diversion of the gas main.

Central Line (Fire)

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will call for a report from London Regional Transport on the reasons for the fire on the Central line in east London on 8 November, on how long it took to deal with it, on the effect upon commuters and what steps are being taken to endeavour to stop a recurrence ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman : London Underground Limited (LUL) tells me that brake dust in the westbound tunnel between Leyton and Stratford was ignited by sparks from the current collectors of a passing train. The London Fire Brigade was called and while they dealt with the incident the service was suspended between Leytonstone and Liverpool Street, at which point trains were turned back. The suspension of service commenced at 09.18 westbound and 09.42 eastbound ; both were resumed at 10.53. Services throughout the day were then irregular due to the disruption to train and crew working arrangements. LUL has a number of initiatives in hand to reduce tunnel fires including using brake blocks which give off less dust, reducing the arcing which occurs at current collector shoes, and increasing tunnel cleaning both by manual and mechanical means.


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Trunk Roads

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what restrictions apply on trunk roads to (a) pedestrians on or beside the road, (b) erection of crash barriers, (c) cycling on the road, (d) other types of traffic on the road, (e) parking on the road and (f) stopping on the road.

Mr. Chope : Traffic restrictions, including stopping and parking provision on trunk roads, vary according to local circumstances. They derive from the prevailing traffic regulation orders under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and are indicated by traffic signs and road markings in the normal way. Changes are subject to statutory procedures for consultation and public advertisement. Installation of safety fences in central reserves is not obligatory on trunk roads but there is a programme to extend safety fencing to most dual carriageways.

Hazardous Materials (Transport)

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has any plans to strengthen controls governing the transport by lorry of hazardous materials ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chope : The regulations are reviewed regularly by the Health and Safety Executive in consultation with the Department of Transport. They are amended as appropriate.

Road Humps

Mr. Gerald Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department will be issuing guidance to local authorities on the new road hump regulations which came into effect on 13 April.

Mr. Chope : My Department has completed consultation on the new circular roads and traffic advisory unit leaflet in respect of the Highways (Road Humps) Regulations 1990 and copies are now being circulated to local highway authorities. I have placed copies in the Library.

East London River Crossing

Mr. Cartwright : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what evidence he has received from the London borough of Greenwich that the proposed widening of the east London river crossing to dual three lanes between the A13 and the Thamesmead spine road will lead to the eventual widening of roads in Eltham, Sidcup, Plumstead and Bexleyheath ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chope : The Department's proposals are currently the subject of public inquiries being held in Stratford, east London. Evidence is submitted to the inspector for his consideration. All evidence including that submitted by the London borough of Greenwich is available for consultation at the Inquiries libraries at Plumstead and Stratford. This evidence will be considered by the Secretary of State for the Environment and myself when we have the inspector's report.

Mr. Cartwright : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate his Department has made about increased traffic on roads in Greenwich as a result of the proposed widening of the east London river crossing to dual three lanes between the A13 and the Thamesmead spine road.


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Mr. Chope : The Department's traffic forecasts show that increasing the width of the bridge from 10m to 11m to provide full dual three-lane standard will have very little effect on traffic flows on roads in Greenwich. For example it is forecast that traffic on the A2016 Western way in the morning peak in 2001 will increase by only 1 per cent. as a result of the widening.

Learner Drivers

Mr. Onslow : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to be in a position to publish the conclusions of his Department's research into the accident liability of learner drivers, with particular reference to those who have recently passed their test.

Mr. Chope : A report on the accident and offence rate of newly qualified and learner drivers is scheduled for July 1992. A final report linking these results to drivers' training and testing experience will follow in March 1993.

Docklands Light Railway

Ms. Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has made a decision about proposals to extend the Docklands light railway to Lewisham and Greenwich.

Mr. Freeman : No decision has yet been taken on this proposal. I have already made it clear that a Bill to authorise the extension can only be deposited this year if the project can be privately financed.

British Rail

Mr. David Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he next intends to meet the chairman of British Rail to discuss forward planning by the board.

Mr. Parkinson : I met the chairman of British Rail on15 November and we discussed a number of railway matters. Planning is a matter for the board, acting on lines settled from time to time with me.


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