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Mr. Yeo [holding answer 16 April 1991] : Information on homeless households for whom local authorities have accepted a statutory duty to secure accommodation under the homelessness provisions of the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977 and the Housing Act 1985 is reported quarterly to the Department.

Estimates of the number of such households, including some on whom inquiries had not yet been completed, in each type of temporary accommodation at 31 December of each year since 1980 are as follows :


           |Bed and   |Hostels<1>|Other                

           |breakfast                                  

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

1980       |1,330     |3,380     |..                   

1981       |1,520     |3,320     |..                   

1982       |1,640     |3,500     |4,200                

1983       |2,700     |3,400     |3,740                

1984       |3,670     |3,990     |4,640                

1985       |5,360     |4,730     |5,830                

1986       |8,990     |4,610     |7,190                

1987       |10,370    |5,150     |9,240                

1988       |10,970    |6,240     |12,890               

1989       |11,480    |8,020     |18,400               

1990       |11,130    |9,010     |25,030               

<1> Including women's refuges.                         

..  Not available.                                     

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

West Bank

Mr. Bowis : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Israeli Government about plans to build new housing units for Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian west bank.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : We continue to make very clear to the Israelis that we oppose all such activity. Israeli


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settlements in the occupied territories, including east Jerusalem, are in our view illegal and an obstacle to the search for peace.

Kurds

Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance has been given to Turkey to alleviate the problem of Kurdish refugees from Iraq ; what assistance has been given to the Kurds within Iraq ; and if he will make a statement on the plight of the Kurdish people of Iraq.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : We have contributed £20 million in response to the United Nations and other international appeals for help to Iraqui refugees. This money is for use in Turkey, Iran and Iraq and other affected countries. We have also contributed three Hercules aircraft and nine Chinook helicopters to assist with the delivery of relief supplies. This is at a cost of some £1 million per week.

We remain concerned at the plight of the Iraqi refugees and determined to play our full part in meeting their needs.

China

Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the question of human rights was discussed at his recent meeting in Peking ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs raised the subject of human rights, and in particular the present situation in Tibet, with both Mr. Qian Qichen, the Chinese Foreign Minister, and Mr. Jiang Zemin, the General Secretary. He referred to a list of cases of particular concern compiled by Amnesty International. We have made regular representations to the Chinese authorities, both bilaterally and with our EC partners, about reported human rights abuses in China.

Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps Her Majesty's Government have taken concerning the imprisonment of Catholic priests and clergy of other denominations in China at the most recent date.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We regularly make representations to the Chinese about these matters. EC ambassadors in Peking made a demarche on this subject last year and my hon. Friend the then Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs also raised it on his visit to Peking in July last year.

On his recent visit to Peking, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs reminded the Chinese authorities of our general concern about reports of human rights abuses. He referred to a list of cases of particular concern, which included a number of people imprisoned for their religious beliefs.

Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the question of religious freedom in Hong Kong after the handover to China in 1997 was discussed during his recent visit to Peking.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : This question did not arise during the recent discussions that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs had with the Chinese Government. The Sino-British joint


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declaration and the Basic Law both make provision for the continuation of freedom of religious belief and practice in Hong Kong after 1997. In addition, the international covenant on civil and political rights, article 18 of which covers religious freedom, will, under the joint declaration and Basic Law, continue to apply to Hong Kong after 1997.

Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his recent visit to China.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I refer the hon. Member to the reply my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) on 15 April, in Official Report, Vol. 189, columns 111-12.

Iraq

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what considerations persuaded the coalition to allow Iraq to use helicopter gunships after the peace treaty ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : At the meeting between General Schwarzkopf and the Iraqi military authorities on 3 March on the suspension of hostilities, the use of fixed wing combat aircraft by Iraq was prohibited. No limitation was placed on the use of helicopters.

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT

Africa

Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if Her Majesty's Government will raise in the European Community the special need for additional funds for emergency relief in Africa.

Mrs. Chalker : The need for additional funds for emergency relief in Africa was discussed, at our request, at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg on Monday 15 April. The principle of further emergency aid was agreed. Detailed proposals will be presented by the Commission as soon as possible.

Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps Her Majesty's Government and the European Community have taken to provide additional food supplies to Africa ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Chalker : Since the first clear indications of the serious food situation in Africa became apparent in September 1990, the United Kingdom has committed 158,000 tonnes of food aid. I also announced at the beginning of this week an additional £30 million of non-food emergency and relief assistance in Africa. The need for additional funds for Africa was discussed by EC Foreign Ministers on 15 April, and detailed proposals are expected to be agreed soon.


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EMPLOYMENT

Employment Training

Mr. Ronnie Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment by how much the total number of training places available through employment training has been reduced in the Northumberland area over the last two years.

Mr. Jackson : The information requested is not available. There have been boundary changes and a change in the way data have been collected over the past two years.

Health and Safety Commission

Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will list the current members of the Health and Safety Commission and give the relevent experience of each member ; how many of the commission are females ; and what percentage of the total membership they comprise.

Mr. Jackson : The Health and Safety Commission consists of the following members, including the chairman, with their relevant experience :

John Cullen FEng. Phd. --worked in industry for 27 years becoming European director for regulatory affairs, engineering and health and safety for Rohm and Haas Limited. He has been chairman of the Health and Safety Commission since October 1983.

Edward Carrick --has extensive experience in local government including vice convenor of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities' environmental committee. He has also been involved in safety standards and training in the construction industry. Paul Gallagher --has been president since 1987 of the Electrical Electronic Telecommunication and Plumbing Union. He has wide negotiating experience in industry.

Peter Jacques CBE --is head of the social insurance and industrial welfare department, TUC and has been a member of the Health and Safety Commission since October 1974.

John C. Marvin --was chief executive-chairman of Hickson International from 1985 to 1990. Previously with ICI, including spells abroad, his special interests are in relation to the Chemical Industries Association.

Dr. Colin Shannon CBE --has wide experience in local government at district and national representative levels. He has been vice chairman of the Institute of Environmental Health Officers since 1983.

Nigel J. Pitcher --is a chartered engineer with wide experience in the contracting industry from power stations to motorways. He is a director of 12 Laing group companies including Laing Engineering Limited and John Laing Construction.

Rex H. M. Symons --is deputy chairman of Merck Holdings Ltd. also a director of British Drug Houses Ltd. being managing director from 1981 to 1989. He acts as the Confederation of British Industry's work place health and safety consultant and is the executive vice-chairman of the Dorset training and enterprise council.

Alan Tuffin --is general secretary of the Union of Communication Workers and a member of the TUC general council. He is chairman of the TUC's social insurance and industrial welfare committee. Dame Rachel Waterhouse -- recently retired as chairman of the Consumers Association, having been a member since 1966. She still serves as a member. President of the Institute of Consumer Ergonomics. Wide experience in consumer and social affairs, having specialised in health and safety matters.

The Commission has one female member, which is 10 per cent. of the total.


Column 190

Youth Training

Mr. Churchill : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the current maximum level of payment per trainee being made by training enterprise councils to agencies providing skill and vocational training to the young, and of this how much is due to the trainee and agency, respectively.

Mr. Jackson : Payments to providers of youth training are a matter for negotiation between them and the training and enterprise councils. Trainees who are not employed must receive a weekly training allowance of at least £29.50 when they are aged 16, and at least £35.00 when they are aged 17 and above.

Career Guidance

Mr. Straw : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will place in the Library a copy of his Department's review of career guidance, announced in May 1990.

Mr. Howard : I have no plans to place a copy of my Department's internal review of the careers service in the Library. I wrote on March 27 to the local authority associations, the chairmen of TECs, the CBI and the TUC seeking their views on a consultative paper on the future of the careers service. A copy of this consultative paper has been placed in the Library.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Income (Statistics)

Mr. Ralph Howell : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what will be the net income after the Budget proposals have come into effect (i) after housing costs of a married man with children aged 13 to 16 years earning (a) £104 and (b) £105 per week, (ii) of a married man with children aged three, eight and 11 years paying average rent and rates as used in the tax benefit model tables earning (a) £65 per week and (b) £80 per week, (iii) after benefits of a married man with children aged four and six years earning (a) £60 per week gross and (b) £140 per week gross (iv) under current tax and benefit structure of a married man with children aged three, eight and 11 years with gross earnings of (a) £65 per week and (b) £105 per week and (v) under the current tax and benefit structure of a married man with children aged four and six years earning (a) £80 per week and (b) £90 per week.

Mr. Jack : The information is set out in the tables. All assumptions are as set out in the published tax-benefit model tables. For the purposes of these examples, it has been assumed that housing costs remain static irrespective of the level of gross earnings. Each family is assumed to live in council property appropriate to its size and to pay estimated average rent and community charge. Total net income is the product of the interaction of income-related benefits and the tax system at any given level of gross earnings. In the tables relating to the situation after the Budget proposals have come into effect, average rents are provisional 1991- 92 figures and community charge has been assessed at £250 per annum. Any relevant changes announced in the Budget, including the increase in child benefit which will take effect in October, have also been incorporated. Those relating to the situation before the Budget use benefit rates in force before the April uprating.


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It should be noted that the results in the tables remain arbitrary. They cannot reflect, except by chance, the actual circumstances of particular people and cannot claim to be representative of the population at large. The tables use hypothetical rents so they do not reflect the full range of housing costs which people can pay.

The information is as follows :


Tables (i) to (iii)-post Budget              

Married couple with two children aged 13 and 

16                                           

Gross earnings |Net income                   

(£pw)        |after rent and               

               |community                    

               |charge                       

                                             

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

104            |130.59                       

105            |130.63                       

Married couple with three children aged      

three, eight and 11                          

Gross earnings |Net income                   

(£pw)        |after rent and               

               |community                    

               |charge                       

               |(£pw)                      

65             |132.67                       

80             |133.48                       

Married couple with two children aged four   

and six                                      

Gross earnings |Net income                   

(£pw)        |after rent and               

               |community                    

               |charge                       

                                             

60             |111.05                       

140            |119.20                       

Tables (iv) to (v) - pre-Budget              

Married couple with three children aged      

three, eight, and 11                         

Gross earnings |Net income                   

(£pw)        |after rent and               

               |community                    

               |charge                       

                                             

65             |121.23                       

105            |125.60                       

Married couple with two children aged four   

and six                                      

Gross earnings |Net income                   

(£pw)        |after rent and               

               |community                    

               |charge                       

                                             

80             |103.17                       

90             |103.72                       

Married couple with three children aged three, eight and 11 Gross earnings

(£pw) Net income after rent and community charge

(£pw)

65 132.67

80 133.48

Married couple with two children aged four and six

Gross earnings

(£pw) Net income after rent and community charge

(£pw)

60 111.05

140 119.20

Tables (iv) to (v)--pre-Budget

Married couple with three children aged three, eight and 11 Gross earnings

(£pw) Net income after rent and community charge

(£pw)

65 121.23

105 125.60

Married couple with two children aged four and six

Gross earnings

(£pw) Net income after rent and community charge

(£pw)

80 103.17

90 103.72

Child Allowances

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he will explain, as precisely as the information available permits, how the 1977 upratings of child dependency increases and war widows' children's allowances, respectively, were calculated ; and what amounts were paid out in respect of these allowances in 1977 and at the latest available date.

Mr. Jack : In November 1977 the rates of child dependency increases of benefit for the first child in a family and war widows' children's allowance were


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increased by 14.5 per cent. in line with the general up-rating of long-term benefits. The rates of child dependency increases for the second and any subsequent child in a family were calculated by reducing the rate payable for the first child by the 50p differential between the rate of child benefit payable for the first child and that payable for any other child.

On the basis of the information available, expenditure on child dependency increases of benefit in the financial year 1977-78 is estimated to have been in the region of £230 million, of which about £90 million was for child dependency increases of short-term benefits. Since 1984, child dependency increases of short-term benefits have been payable only where the beneficiary has reached state pension age. Equivalent expenditure in the last financial year, 1990-91, is estimated to have been £158 million. Information on expenditure on war widows' children's allowances is not available as no records were kept of the numbers receiving the two levels of allowance then payable ; expenditure in 1990-91 was about £1.7 million.

Social Fund

Mr. Cummings : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the cash limits of the social fund for 1991-92 applied to the Peterlee and Seaham offices for 1991-92 and the estimated expenditure on discretionary grants and loans for 1990-91.

Mr. Scott : Details of the district office budget allocations for 1991-92 and monthly local office expenditure up to February 1991, the latest figures available, are in the Library.

Expenditure

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what has been the level of expenditure on social security each year since 1979, both in cash terms and at 1990-91 prices, excluding expenditure on unemployment benefit, income support for the unemployed and their families and other expenditure on the unemployed ; and what has been the percentage change in real terms each year and cumulatively.

Miss Widdecombe : Details of total social security spending from 1978-79 to 1990-91, excluding the amount spent on unemployed people, are given in the table. The table is as follows :


            Expenditure £ million                               

           |Cash      |1990-91   |Percentage|Cumulative           

                      |prices    |change in |percentage           

                                 |real terms|change               

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

1978-79    |15,228    |38,416    |-         |-                    

1979-80    |18,146    |39,234    |2.13      |2.13                 

1980-81    |21,221    |38,774    |-1.17     |0.96                 

1981-82    |24,941    |41,558    |7.18      |8.14                 

1982-83    |27,989    |43,544    |4.78      |12.92                

1983-84    |31,180    |46,364    |6.48      |19.40                

1984-85    |33,630    |46,590    |2.64      |22.04                

1985-86    |36,525    |49,023    |3.01      |25.05                

1986-87    |39,533    |51,283    |4.61      |29.66                

1987-88    |42,292    |52,084    |1.56      |31.22                

1988-89    |44,483    |50,985    |-2.11     |29.11                

1989-90    |48,380    |52,129    |2.24      |31.35                

1990-91    |54,149    |54,149    |3.88      |35.23                



Column 193

Housing Benefit

Mr. Fraser : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many (a) council tenants and (b) private tenants in Lambeth were in receipt of housing benefit at the end of February based on claims for refund of housing benefit by his Department to Lambeth.

Miss Widdecombe : This information has not yet been received from Lambeth council.

SCOTLAND

Coronary Surgery, Lothian

19. Mr. Eadie : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will investigate the delay in carrying out elective coronary surgery in the Lothian health board area.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : I have made substantial extra resources available to Lothian for cardiac surgery. Last year, the number of operations increased and waiting lists fell by 5.4 per cent. I will however give further consideration to the programme in the light of the hon. Members' representations.

Ravenscraig

20. Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals he has to promote employment prospects in the Ravenscraig district.

Mr. Allan Stewart : The Lanarkshire working group, which I supervise, is identifying the constraints to regenerating the Lanarkshire economy and the measures necessary to overcome these constraints. I expect the group to put forward its recommendations for economic development measures, including job creation projects, around the end of this month.

Local Government Finance

21. Mr. Dunnachie : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a further statement on the future of the poll tax.

Mr. Allan Stewart : I refer to the reply which my right hon. Friend gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston).

25. Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what will be the cost of implementing the Government's new proposals for local government finance.

Mr. Allan Stewart : A consultation paper on the Government's proposed new local taxation system will be issued shortly. Until the proposals have been finalised, it will not be possible to estimate the costs of implementation.

38. Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he will next meet COSLA to discuss local government finance.

Mr. Allan Stewart : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend earlier today to the hon. Members for East Kilbride (Mr. Ingram) and for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth (Mr. Hogg).


Column 194

Mr. Dewar : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing for each year from 1967-68 to 1991-92 the aggregate grant percentage for rate/revenue support grant.

Mr. Lang : The percentages for 1975-76 to 1991-92 of rate/revenue support grant to actual relevant expenditure are shown in the table. Figures for earlier years are not readily available.


              |RSG as a                   

              |percentage of              

              |relevant                   

              |expenditure                

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

1975-76       |52.2                       

1976-77       |61.0                       

1977-78       |60.4                       

1978-79       |57.4                       

1979-80       |51.6                       

1980-81       |49.6                       

1981-82       |53.7                       

1982-83       |55.7                       

1983-84       |55.0                       

1984-85       |51.0                       

1985-86       |48.4                       

1986-87       |47.2                       

1987-88       |47.1                       

1988-89       |46.7                       

1989-90       |48.1                       

1990-91       |48.3                       

1991-92       |48.0                       

1. Total relevant expenditure figures     

include loan and leasing                  

charges.                                  

2. Rate/revenue support grant figures     

represent the original                    

amounts of RSG awarded.                   

3. No account has been taken of specific  

grants payable to local                   

authorities.                              

34. Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what will be the estimated cost of collecting local authority taxes in (a) 1991- 92, (b) 1992-93 and (c) 1993-94 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Allan Stewart : Based on local authorities' own budget estimates for 1991-92, the cost of collecting the community charge and non-domestic rates will be £47.4 million. The comparable information for 1992-93 and 1993-94 will not be available until local authorities have submitted their budget estimates for those years. Full account has been taken in successive aggregate external finance settlements of the costs incurred by local authorities in collecting both the community charge and non-domestic rates.

32. Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of expenditure by Scottish local authorities in connection with the administration of the community charge for 1991-92.

Mr. Allan Stewart : Based on local authorities' own budget estimates, the cost of community charge registration and collection in 1991 -92 will be £61.6 million.

31. Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what further progress the Government have made in their review of the poll tax.

Mr. Allan Stewart : My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for the Environment, Scotland and Wales will be issuing a consultation paper shortly on the Government's proposals to introduce a new local tax to replace the community charge.


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