Home Page

Column 175

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 17 April 1991

TRANSPORT

HGV Speed Limiters

Mr. Gareth Wardell : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will bring forward proposals to make it mandatory for all heavy goods vehicles of over 7.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight to be fitted with speed limiters.

Mr. Chope : The Department has consulted about a proposal to require new heavy goods vehicles of more than 7.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight to be fitted with speed limiters, to ensure that these vehicles cannot be driven at more than 60 mph, their motorway speed limit. I am considering the response to this consultation.

HGV Drivers

Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many HGV drivers lost their licences at the age of 45, 50, 55 and 60 years respectively, in each of the last three years ; and if he will give the figures by disease or illness for each category in each year.

Mr. Chope : Prior to 1 April 1991 decisions on fitness to hold these licences were a matter for the statutorily independent traffic commissioners. Separate statistics relating to decisions taken on medical ground have been maintained since 1988. These are set out below. Details of the ages of the drivers concerned or the medical conditions in question are not available.


              |April 1988 to|April 1989 to|April 1990 to              

              |March 1989   |March 1990   |March 1991                 

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

Refusals      |1,735        |2,391        |<1>-                       

Suspensions   |706          |783          |<1>-                       

Revocations   |2,462        |1,716        |<1>-                       

<1> Figures not yet available.                                        

Road Traffic Accidents

Mr. Cummings : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the number of road traffic accidents and the numbers of injuries and deaths that have taken place on the stretch of the A19 which passes through the Easington constituency for 1990-91 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chope : For the section of the A19 within the Easington constituency the accident figures available for 1990 are as follows.


                                 |Number       

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

Number of road traffic accidents |16           

Number of personal injuries      |30           

Number of deaths                 |2            

The accident rate is higher than I would wish although it is lower than the national average for similar trunk roads.


Column 176

Pelican Crossing

Sir John Farr : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he now expects work to be commenced on the A6 trunk road pelican crossing between Kibworth Harcourt and Kibworth Beauchamp in Leicestershire ; and if the consultations by his Department with the local people concerned are yet completed.

Mr. Chope : Responses to the Department's proposals are still awaited from Kibworth Harcourt and Kibworth Beauchamp parish councils. I would expect construction work to begin about six months after the satisfactory conclusion of the consultation with local bodies.

Roadside Lighting

Mr. Cummings : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he intends to install roadside lighting along that stretch of the A19 running through the Easington constituency ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chope : The installation of roadside lighting on the A19 between Murton and Easington is planned for this financial year.

EDUCATION AND SCIENCE

Parents (Appeals)

Mr. Livingstone : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will outline the rights of parents of children who have been refused admission to the secondary school of their choice after they have lost their appeal to the local council.

Mr. Fallon : Parents have a right to appeal to an appeal committee, which is independent of the local council, against the council's decision as to the school their child should attend. If their appeal is unsuccessful they may complain to the Secretary of State, who can intervene if he believes that the council has acted unreasonably in refusing to admit the child to the parents' preferred school. "Unreasonably" in this context has the meaning given to it in administrative law : a body has acted unreasonably in this sense if it has acted in a way in which no sensible body, bearing in mind its statutory responsibilities, could decide to act.

Wandsworth CTC

Mr. Straw : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what sums have been pledged by ADT in respect of the city technology college, Wandsworth ; and on what dates and in what amounts these sums are due.

Mr. Straw : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list the dates and amounts of funds actually paid over by ADT in respect of their sponsorship of the city technology college, Wandsworth ; in what form such payments have been made ; and to whom the payments have been made.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke : ADT plc has agreed to pay £1 million and to underwrite a further £700,000 as their contribution of the capital costs for establishing the Wandsworth city technology college. A schedule of payments is being drawn up.


Column 177

ADT has made two payments of £500,000 and £250,000 which were paid in August 1990 and March 1991 respectively, towards the college capital programme.

I congratulate ADT on its public-spirited sponsorship of a very attractive project to improve educational opportunities for children in south London, which is making good progress.

Science

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what response he is making to the problems of the lack of qualified science teachers in respect of science key stages 1 and 3.

Mr. Fallon : We have taken measures to improve the supply of teachers in shortage areas. A number of these are targeted specifically at science, including the extension of the initial teacher training bursary to biology as well as chemistry and physics courses, support for the development of distance learning materials in physics, chemistry and primary science, teaching taster courses and the undergraduate work experience scheme.

In the current financial year, the Government are making specific grants to support local authority expenditure of some £170 million for the implementation of the national curriculum. It is for local education authorities to apply for these grants, to identify needs and priorities and to direct spending towards them. However, £10 million of this total is earmarked for courses for teachers of maths and science in primary schools.

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action he is taking to increase the number of school laboratory technicians.

Mr. Fallon : Under local management of schools, the governing bodies of schools take their own decisions on staffing matters. The Government are confident that governors are best placed to take decisions including the appropriate deployment of resources between teaching and non-teaching staff, and the nature of the non-teaching staff to be appointed.

Speech Disorders

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many children whose homes are in Scotland are being educated at specialist schools for children with speech and language disorders in England.

Mr. Fallon : This information is not collected centrally.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Prison Service (Race Relations)

Sir Fergus Montgomery : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are being taken to improve implementation of the prison service's race relations policies ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Rumbold : The prison service is committed to the elimination of racial discrimination in all aspects of its work. This is clearly set out in the service's public policy statement, which emphasises the need to treat all prisoners fairly and without discrimination.


Column 178

In order to help ensure effective implementation of these policies, we are launching this week a race relations manual for use at all establishments. A copy is being placed in the Library.

The manual explains the service's race relations policies in detail, and their implications for the various areas of prison life. It gives practical advice on how to implement the policies, and enables establishments to audit their current performance. All establishments will be required to carry out the audit process, to draw up action plans to ensure that the policies are being implemented and to develop new initiatives and ideas.

The manual will be used primarily by each establishment's race relations management team, which reports to the governor. Governors and their area managers will maintain an oversight of progress. However, the manual emphasises the responsibilities of all staff to help to implement the service's policies. The manual will be available to all staff and prisoners.

Briefings for governing governors are taking place this week and will be introduced by the director general of the prison service. Training sessions have already been held for representatives from race relations management teams.

The prison service will also be introducing shortly a pack for use by establishments in delivering local race relations training and a pocketbook for staff.

We believe that these initiatives represent a major step forward in ensuring the elimination of discrimination in prisons. They demonstrate the determination of the prison service to ensure that all prisoners are treated fairly, with humanity and with respect.

Television (Listed Events)

Mr. Jacques Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will announce the conclusion of his consultations with interested parties about possible changes to the list drawn up for the purposes of section 182 of the Broadcasting Act 1990.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : Following consultation with broadcasters, the rights holders of the events concerned, the Sports Council and the Central Council of Physical Recreation I have drawn up a list including eight events. They are :

1. Cricket Test matches involving England

2. The Derby horse race

3. The FIFA World cup finals

4. The FA cup final.

5. The Grand National horse race

6. The Olympic games

7. The finals weekend of the Wimbledon tennis champion- ships and any subsequent days if the championship overruns

8. Additionally in Scotland, the Scottish FA cup final. The Commonwealth games when held in the United Kingdom and the Oxford and Cambridge boat race have both been removed from the list, as have all but the finals weekend of the Wimbledon tennis championships.

Visa Nationals

Mr. Bowis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has reviewed the arrangements for visa nationals who travel abroad and return during a period of leave in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : At present, a visa national who intends to leave the United Kingdom for a visit abroad


Column 179

and then to return before the expiry of his current leave can obtain a re-entry visa from the Home Office. However, because re-entry visas are issued without substantive consideration of applications, they do not contribute to immigration control and I am not satisfied that they represent an effective use of resources. Furthermore, because returning visitors are eligible to receive a fresh six months' leave on each admission, a visa national can in theory prolong a visit indefinitely and without effective scrutiny through repeated use of re- entry visas. I have therefore decided that re-entry visas will no longer be issued with effect from 16 May 1991 and that alternative arrangements should be made.

In recent years it has been the practice, when introducing a new visa regime, to provide an exemption for visa nationals who are settled here or have been admitted for work, study or other long-term purposes. The visa exemption scheme, currently limited to 11 visa nationalities, is functioning satisfactorily and there is no longer any reason why its scope should remain confined in this way. I am therefore laying before Parliament today immigration rules changes to extend the scheme to all visa nationalities. From 16 May any visa national who is settled here and returns after an absence of not more than two years, or has been granted a limited leave of more than six months and returns before the expiry date of that leave, will benefit from the exemption.

Visitors will remain outside the scope of the exemption scheme. However, in order to provide increased flexibility for those who plan to travel abroad and return during a


Column 180

visit, my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary has decided to introduce on 16 May a new multiple entry visa valid for six months. This will replace and carry the same charge as the existing six month double entry visa. The existing two year and five year multiple entry visas will remain available.

NATIONAL FINANCE

Trade Statistics

Mr. Lawson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will provide a table showing, for each calendar year from 1970 to 1990 inclusive, (a) the non-oil current account surplus or deficit, (b) non-oil money GDP, (c) (a) above as a percentage of (b) above ;

(2) if he will publish a table showing, for each year from 1970 to 1990 inclusive, plus the Budget forecast for 1991, the non-oil current account surplus or deficit expressed as a percentage of non-oil GDP.

Mr. Norman Lamont [holding answer 15 April 1991] : The annual values for the years 1970 to 1990 of the current account balance less the balance of trade in oil are shown in the table, together with these current balance values expressed as a percentage of non-North sea gross domestic product. Non-North sea GDP is not published as a separate series. There is no standard definition of the non-oil current balance ; the measure shown here does not take account of the full impact of the oil industry, nor would it be feasible to do so.


Column 179


Year                    |Current                |Balance on             |Non-North              |Non-North sea current                          

                        |balance                |trade in oil           |sea current            |balance as a percentage                        

                                                                        |balance<1>             |of non-North sea                               

                                                                                                |money GDP<2><3>                                

                        |(1)                    |(2)                    |(3)                    |(4)                                            

                        |£ million            |£ million            |£ million                                                            

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

1970                    |821                    |-496                   |1,317                  |2.5                                            

1971                    |1,114                  |-691                   |1,805                  |3.1                                            

1972                    |203                    |-665                   |868                    |1.3                                            

1973                    |-998                   |-944                   |-54                    |-0.1                                           

1974                    |-6,822                 |-3,360                 |-3,462                 |-4.1                                           

1975                    |-1,525                 |-3,062                 |1,537                  |1.5                                            

1976                    |-772                   |-3,952                 |3,180                  |2.6                                            

1977                    |53                     |-2,775                 |2,828                  |2.0                                            

1978                    |1,123                  |-1,989                 |3,112                  |1.9                                            

1979                    |-453                   |-737                   |284                    |0.1                                            

1980                    |2,843                  |308                    |2,535                  |1.1                                            

1981                    |6,748                  |3,105                  |3,643                  |1.5                                            

1982                    |4,649                  |4,639                  |10                     |0.0                                            

1983                    |3,787                  |6,972                  |-3,185                 |-1.1                                           

1984                    |1,832                  |6,933                  |-5,101                 |-1.7                                           

1985                    |2,738                  |8,101                  |-5,363                 |-1.6                                           

1986                    |-66                    |4,070                  |-4,136                 |-1.1                                           

1987                    |-4,322                 |4,183                  |-8,505                 |-2.1                                           

1988                    |-15,542                |2,797                  |-18,339                |-4.0                                           

1989                    |-19,904                |1,303                  |-21,207                |-4.2                                           

1990                    |-12,794                |1,576                  |-14,370                |-2.7                                           

Forecast £ billion<4>                                                                                                                         

1991                    |-6                     |+1                     |-7                     |-1                                             

<1> Defined as col. 1 less col. 2.                                                                                                              

<2> Non-North sea GDP is the average measure of GDP  at current market prices less the value added of the extraction of mineral oil and         

natural gas industry.                                                                                                                           

<3>Based on non-North sea money GDP figures adjusted to remove the distortion caused by the abolition of domestic rates.                        

<4>Source: consistent with financial statement and Budget report 1991-92.                                                                       



Column 181

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Farm Prices

Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on farm prices for the current year.

Mr. Curry : Negotiations are continuing on the European Commission's proposals for agricultural prices for the 1991-92 marketing years ; the Agriculture Council next meets on 22 and 23 April.

Brucellosis

Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in how many herds of cattle brucellosis has been identified in the current year ; how many heads of cattle have been destroyed ; what is the basis of compensation for cattle killed as a result of this identification of brucellosis ; and if he will make a statement on the extent of brucellosis and the measures taken to curtail it.

Mr. Maclean : In Great Britain, no case of brucellosis has been confirmed this year and so far one animal has been slaughtered as a reactor. In Northern Ireland, brucellosis has been confirmed in two herds, and 36 reactors and 196 contact animals have been slaughtered.

Compensation for reactors is paid at 75 per cent. of market value, subject to a ceiling.

The United Kingdom is officially brucellosis free under community criteria, and qualifies for blood testing to be carried out only every two years.


Column 182

PRIME MINISTER

Correspondence

Mr. McNamara : To ask the Prime Minister when he will be replying to the letter of 19 March from the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North on the subject of the campaign for non-payment of the poll tax by a prospective parliamentary candidate.

The Prime Minister : A reply to the hon. Member has been sent today.

WALES

Rents

Mr. Geraint Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the average time taken by the rent officer service for Wales to deal with applications made to them under (a) section 70 of the Rent Act 1977 and (b) section 121 of the Housing Act 1988 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : The information requested is not available centrally.

Mr. Geraint Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what increase there has been in personnel employed in the rent officer service in Wales since the introduction of the Housing Act 1988 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : Fifteen.


Column 183

ENVIRONMENT

Water Authorities

Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is now able to dissolve the English residuary water authorities.

Mr. Trippier : My right hon. Friend has today dissolved by order the residuary Anglian, Northumbrian, North West, Severn-Trent, Wessex and Yorkshire water authorities. He will dissolve the remaining authorities as soon as they have discharged their functions.

Gulf Oil Pollution

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will place in the Library a copy of the report by the head of the meteorological research flight on the Hercules flight through the smoke plume in the Gulf.

(2) what has been the assessment of the meteorological research flight in relation to (a) hydrogen sulphide, (b) carbon monoxide, (c) carbon dioxide, (d) sulphur dioxide, (e) nitrogen compounds and (f) combinations of hydrocarbons and chlorine in the smoke plumes in the Gulf ; and what was the finding of particles of aerosol per cubic metre.

Mr. Baldry : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 15 April, Official Report, Vol. 189, columns 65-66, and to the related documents which have been placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations have been received from Iran about oil-black rain and oil- black snow.

Mr. Baldry : My right hon. Friend has received no such representations.

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 28 March, Official Report, columns 538-39, to the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), what interim assessments he has had from the United Nations Environment Programme for a comprehensive assessment of environmental damage in the Gulf.

Mr. Baldry : None so far. I understand that implementation of the 90 -day programme for the comprehensive assessment proposed by UNEP has now begun, but it is too early to make a substantive report on progress.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Michael Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when local authorities are to be compensated in respect of the statutory reduction of community charges ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo : A new grant is to be paid to local authorities to reimburse them for the loss of community charge income arising from the provisions of the Community Charges (General Reduction) Act 1991. Payment of this grant will be made in 10 monthly instalments of 9 per cent. commencing in April on the basis of an estimate of the income forgone by each authority.


Column 184

Final grant entitlement will be calculated after the end of the financial year 1991-92. Parliamentary approval of this new service will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the relevant vote, class VIII, vote 14. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure (estimated at £435 million for the grant payments to be made in April) will be met by a repayable advance from the contingencies fund.

Mr. Hardy : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his estimate of (a) the total costs of administration of the community charge in England in 1990-91 and (b) the costs of the administration of the rates in 1989-90.

Mr. Key [holding answer 16 April 1991] : Local authorities budgeted to spend £440 million on the administration of the community charge in 1990-91. This compares with £200 million for the collection of both domestic and non-domestic rates.

Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his estimate of the average reduction in 1991-92 in community charges resulting from the provisions of the Community Charges (General Reduction) Bill for all those entitled to a reduction under the community charge reduction scheme prior to the enactment of the Bill.

Mr. Key [holding answer 15 April 1991] : Following the Community Charges (General Reduction) Act and the improvements to the community charge reduction scheme, the average reduction in net charge payable after community charge benefit in England, for those who were previously within the scope of the community charge reduction scheme as already planned for 1991-92, is estimated at £86. For those with no entitlement to community charge benefit the average reduction is estimated at £113.

Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many community charge payers he estimates will benefit, net of rebates and the community charge reduction scheme, from the provisions of the Community Charges (General Reduction) Bill by (a) £140, (b) £120 to £140, (c) £100 to £120, (d) £80 to £100 and (e) less than £80 ; and in each case, how many are (i) pensioners and (ii) income support recipients.

Mr. Key [holding answer 15 April 1991] : The Community Charges (General Reduction) Act 1991 provides for headline community charges everywhere to be reduced by £140, or to zero where the charge set is less than that figure. About 20 million chargepayers in England will additionally receive help from the community charge reduction scheme and/or through community charge benefit.

Both the community charge reduction scheme and community charge benefit help people meet their headline community charges and reduce the amount falling to be paid. The community charge reduction scheme limits increases between 1989-90 rates and community charge liabilities in 1991-92. Community charge benefit helps those with low incomes. It follows that when the headline charge is reduced, the amount of help a person needs to meet the headline charge is also reduced.

For example, a person on income support would only have to pay 20 per cent. of the community charge as reduced by £140 and any entitlement under the community


Column 185

charge reduction scheme, CCRS. If their original charge was £400, and if there were no entitlement to CCRS, the charge after benefit would have been £80 ; after the £140 reduction the headline charge is £260 and the charge payable is £52. The 35 per cent. reduction in net charge is the same as the percentage reduction in headline charge. The information requested is given in the table below :


                     |Reduction in payment|Charge payers       |Pensioners                               

                     |   per year         |(millions)          |(millions)                               

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

(a)                  | £140 plus        |14.2                |1.9                                      

(b)                  | £120 to £139.99|1.7                 |0.2                                      

(c)                  | £100 to £119.99|2.2                 |0.3                                      

(d)                  | £80 to £99.99  |2.9                 |0.5                                      

(e)                  | less than £80    |14.6                |5.0                                      

All 4 million individuals in England on income support are entitled to maximum community charge benefit and hence fall in category (e) in the above table.

Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what he estimates the average community charge will be in England in 1991- 92 (a) before the effects of the Community Charges (General Reduction) Bill and (b) after the reduction provided for in the Bill, in both cases giving figures (i) gross of the community charge reduction scheme and rebates, (ii) net of the community charge reduction scheme but gross of rebates and (iii) net of the community charge reduction scheme and rebates.

Mr. Key [holding answer 15 April 1991] : The information requested is as follows :


                                                   |£    

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

(a) Before Community Charges (General                      

    Reduction) Act                                         

(i) Average charge (gross)                         |392    

(ii) Average charge less community charge                  

     reduction scheme                              |340    

(iii) Average charge less community charge                 

      reduction scheme and community charge                

      benefit                                      |285    

(b) After Community Charges (General Reduction)            

    Act and revision to community charge reduction         

    scheme                                                 

(i) Average charge (gross)                         |252    

(ii) Average charge less community charge                  

     reduction scheme                              |220    

(iii) Average charge less community charge                 

      reduction scheme and community charge                

      benefit                                      |187    

Taking account of the allowance in income support for the  

20 per                                                     

cent. minimum contribution, the estimated average charge   

in England                                                 

is reduced to less than £175. Charges have been          

calculated without                                         

allowing for reduction in charges due to capping.          

Concrete Batching Plant, London N19

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to make a decision on the inspectors' report into a planning application for a concrete batching plant at Monnery road, London N19 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Yeo : A decision is expected shortly.

The Gulf

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a further statement on action being taken to end environmental destruction in the Gulf region.


Column 186

Mr. Baldry [holding answer 16 April 1991] : I listed the actions which the United Kingdom had taken to help alleviate the effects of oil pollution in the Gulf in my reply to the motion tabled by the hon. Member for Linlithgow on 15 March, Official Report, Vol. 187, columns 1384- 91. Since then, the Government have continued to respond positively to requests for assistance from the Gulf states. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry was accompanied on his recent visit to Kuwait by a team of experts to advise on the capabilities which United Kingdom industry could offer for extinguishing oil fires and capping the wells. The Government are also making available to the Gulf states an assessment of the health and environment effects of those fires. In relation to the coastal oil slick, part of the £1 million which the United Kingdom has contributed to the International Maritime Organisation is being deployed to clean up Karan island, a key Gulf breeding site for green turtles.

Homelessness

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his Department's estimate of the number of homeless people on 1 January of each year since 1981 who are sleeping in (a) bed and breakfast accommodation, (b) hostels and (c) other temporary accommodation ; and if he will make a statement.


Next Section

  Home Page