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Mr. David Hart

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what basis he has employed Mr. David Hart to work in his Department ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hanley : Mr. Hart is not an employee of the Ministry of Defence. He is one of several people who provide informal and unpaid advice to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence from time to time.

ENVIRONMENT

Local Government Finance

Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the amount of loan debt for each local authority in England in its capital account, excluding debt related to trading services, for the year 1992-93, together with his estimate of the amount of capital expenditure not authorised by Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Baldry : Statistics on loan debt excluding trading services debt are no longer collected by the Department. However, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy publishes figures for most local authorities. The most recent publication is "Capital Payments, Financing and Debt Statistics 1991-92". The amount of capital expenditure undertaken by local authorities is entirely for them to determine within the resources available to them. Central Government support for authorities' capital expenditure is set out in the


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statistical supplement to the "Autumn Statement"--"Public Expenditure Analyses to 1995-96 : Statistical Supplement to the 1992 Autumn Statement", Her Majesty's Treasury 1993, Cm 2219.

Ms Harman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will specify for each local authority the amount of accumulated capital receipts.

Mr. Baldry : I am arranging for information on the usable receipts held by each local authority in England at 1 April 1993 to be placed in the Library of the House.

Amusement Arcades

Mr. Gapes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many times the planning inspectorate has overruled local authorities and allowed the establishment of amusement arcades opposite the entrances to secondary schools since 1979.

Mr. Baldry : This information is not held in the inspectorate's records.

Overseas Visits

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many overseas visits he has made since his appointment ; and if he will list the places visited, the costs of the visits and the cost to public funds.

Mr. Gummer : Since my appointment I have made four overseas visits. They are :


Places Visited and                              |Cost of Visit                        

Purpose                                                                               

                                                |£                                    

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

New York                                                                              

To address the UN Commission on Sustainable                                           

  Development                                   |9,321.50                             

                                                                                      

Luxembourg                                                                            

Meeting of the Environment Council              |1,013.12                             

                                                                                      

Brussels                                                                              

Bilateral with the EC Commissioner              |870.30                               

                                                                                      

Monte Carlo                                                                           

To support Manchester's bid to host the Olympic                                       

  games                                         |2,517.55                             

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many visits abroad he has made during 1993 ; and what was (a) the cost to public funds and (b) the purpose of each visit.

Mr. Gummer : Since January 1993 either I or my right hon. and learned Friend the then Secretary of State have made 10 overseas visits. They are :


Places Visited and                                   |Cost of Visit                        

Purpose                                                                                    

                                                     |£                                    

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

Washington                                                                                 

Discussions with the relevant members of the new                                           

  Administration                                     |12,024.37                            

                                                                                           

India                                                                                      

Discussions on international environmental issues of                                       

  importance to both India and the United Kingdom    |5,586.36                             

                                                                                           

Brussels                                                                                   

Informal Environment Council                         |822.93                               

                                                                                           

Canada                                                                                     

International Environment Ministers Conference       |6,689.13                             

                                                                                           

Lucerne                                                                                    

European Environment Ministers Conference            |1,162.58                             

                                                                                           

Nairobi                                                                                    

Meeting of the United Nations Enviroment                                                   

  Programme Council                                  |7,916.32                             

                                                                                           

New York                                                                                   

To address the UN Commission                         |9,321.50                             

                                                                                           

Luxembourg                                                                                 

Meeting of the Enviroment Council                    |1,013.12                             

                                                                                           

Brussels                                                                                   

Bilateral with the EC Commissioner                   |870.30                               

                                                                                           

Monte Carlo                                                                                

To support Manchester's bid to host the Olympic                                            

  Games                                              |2,517.55                             

Rents

Mr. Tyler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what the average cost rent will be for social housing produced at (a) current and (b) projected housing association grant levels for (a) 1994-95 and (b) 1995-96.

Sir George Young : The cost rent of any housing association development will vary depending on the nature of the particular development and the circumstances of the individual association.

Local Government Review

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the local authorities he has visited since his appointment ; and what is the total number of representations and correspondence he has received concerning the local government review.

Mr. Gummer : Since my appointment, I have visited the following local authorities :

Monday 14 June -- Manchester city councilWednesday 14 July -- Liverpool city councilFriday 16 July -- Nottinghamshire county councilWednesday 8 September -- Derby city councilWednesday 29 September -- Southend-on-Sea borough councilWednesday 29 September -- Thurrock borough councilWednesday 13 October -- London borough of Tower HamletsFriday 15 October -- South Cambridgeshire district councilTuesday 19 October -- London borough of NewhamFriday 22 October -- Gloucester city councilMonday 8 November -- Kent county council Gravesham borough council

Dartford borough council

Gillingham borough councilThursday 11 November -- Leicester city councilFriday 12 November -- Peterborough city council A total figure for the number of items of correspondence I have received on the Local Government Commission's reviews is not available, except at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions have taken place with the Local Government Commission concerning the possible creation of a new unitary authority straddling the Yorkshire and Lancashire border.


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Mr. Baldry : The Local Government Commission has discretion, where it judges it necessary, to make a formal request to my right hon. Friend that the area of review be extended to include localities bordering on that area. The commission has not made such a request in respect of either the Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire or the Lancashire review areas.

Mrs. Angela Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what decisions he has reached on the Local Government Commission's reports on Derbyshire and on Cleveland and Durham ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gummer : I have today written to Sir John Banham, chairman of the Local Government Commission, about the commission's reports "Final Recommendations on the Future Local Government of Derbyshire" and "Final Recommendations on the Future Local Government of Cleveland and Durham".

Having considered the commission's recommendations for Derbyshire and County Durham, together with representations made to me, I am not at present satisfied that the proposals in respect of those areas meet the criteria in section 13(5) of the Local Government Act 1992. I am still considering the commission's recommendations for Cleveland.

I have therefore, under section 15(6) of the Local Government Act 1992, directed the commission to conduct further reviews of Derbyshire and County Durham, having regard to the revised policy and procedure guidance issued to it on 2 November and 22 November respectively.

As with the other reviews which I announced on 22 November, I have directed the commission to start on 13 December 1993 and to report on or before 30 December 1994. I will be discussing target dates for final reports with the commission when it has consulted local authorities in these two areas.

These two reviews were conducted in accordance with the original policy guidance which I issued to the commission in July 1992. The revised policy guidance which I issued on 2 November clarified the Government's views on a number of issues, including unitary authorities and the importance of local consensus. Representations have been made to me by local authorities in Derbyshire and Durham that they should be given the opportunity to make fresh proposals on the basis of the new guidance. I consider that the local authorities and people of these areas ought to be given that chance.

A copy of my letter to Sir John Banham has been placed in the Library.

GATT

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the implications for (a) the United Kingdom environment and (b) the environment of the United Kingdom's trading partners of the implementation of the proposals in the Uruguay round of the general agreement on tariffs and trade.

Mr. Yeo : A successful outcome to the Uruguay round of the general agreement on tariffs and trade will bring lower tariffs on goods and a significant liberalisation of trade in services from which all countries will benefit. This


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should increase the resources available to finance environmental improvements and should help to promote sustainable development.

Radioactive Waste

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he has taken to implement paragraph 22.4 of chapter 22 of the Agenda 21 report from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, on the minimisation of generation of radioactive wastes.

Mr. Yeo : Paragraph 22.4 of the Agenda 21 report from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development reflects current United Kingdom policies and practices.

Inner-city Initiative

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will name each urban programme authority and state the amount of aid they have received under each Government inner-city initiative since 1979.

Mr. Baldry : Several Government Departments contribute to urban regeneration through a wide range of programmes. The total support provided by my Department's targeted urban group of programmes since 1981 is as follows :


               |Outturn prices               

               |£ million                    

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

1981-82        |160                          

1982-83        |283                          

1983-84        |326                          

1984-85        |449                          

1985-86        |437                          

1986-87        |428                          

1987-88        |516                          

1988-89        |598                          

1989-90        |817                          

1990-91        |970                          

1991-92        |987                          

1992-93        |987                          

1993-94        |<1>927                       

<1> provision                                

Comprehensive information for all eligible areas is not readily available. Further information by programme is set out in the relevant departmental annual reports and public expenditure White Papers.

Planning Inspectorate

Mr. Gapes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the workings of the planning inspectorate and list the number of occasions on which it has overruled local authorities in each year since 1979.

Mr. Baldry : The information requested is listed.


Section 78 Planning Appeal                      

Year            |Appeals allowed                

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

1979            |2,602                          

1980            |4,044                          

1981            |4,721                          

1982            |4,003                          

1983            |3,633                          

1984            |3,773                          

1985            |5,477                          

1985-86         |5,581                          

1986-87         |6,208                          

1987-88         |6,955                          

1988-89         |7,734                          

1989-90         |8,852                          

1990-91         |8,871                          

1991-92         |7,590                          

1992-93         |5,979                          

Household Waste

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the applicability of the German household waste management system to the United Kingdom.

Mr. Yeo : The approach taken in Germany to household waste management, as epitomised by the recent German packaging ordinance, has resulted in the collection of large quantities of recyclable material, without a corresponding increase in domestic processing capacity or market demand. The resulting imbalance between supply and demand has depressed prices for recyclable material across Europe. This approach proved very costly to German consumers and industry and has put at risk the recycling infrastructure in other EC member states.

The lessons which we have learned are the importance of setting realistic targets for the recycling and recovery of waste ; of gearing those targets to the development of processing capacity and markets ; of involving local authorities in the collection rather than insisting on separate waste collection systems ; and of giving energy recovery from waste a role where recycling is not practicable or environmentally beneficial.

We believe that industry is in the best position to devise the most efficient and cost-effective means of achieving high recovery levels. That is why, in our producer responsibility initiative, we have challenged the packaging industry to devise a plan by Christmas to secure recovery of between 50 per cent. and 75 per cent. of all packaging waste by the end of the decade.

London Pensions Fund Authority

Mr. Raynsford : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many people are employed by the London Pensions Fund Authority ; and what is its total annual salary expenditure ; (2) what is the total area of office accommodation occupied by the London Pensions Fund Authority ; what is the rent per square foot ; and what is the total annual cost of its accommodation.

Mr. Baldry : In its annual report and accounts for the year 1992-93, the London Pensions Fund Authority reported that there were 99 members of staff at the financial year end. The annual report also indicated that salary expenditure for the year was £2,359,000 and premises costs were £1,276,000. The total area of the office accommodation and the rent per squre foot are questions for the authority to consider and I have written to the chairman asking him to reply direct to the hon. Gentleman on these points.


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1 Victoria Street, London

Mr. Raynsford : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects the building contract in respect of work at 1 Victoria street, London SW1 to commence ; and what is the total cost incurred to date by his Department in respect of these premises since they were vacated in September 1991.

Mr. Gummer : Property Holdings and DTI have concluded negotiations with the freeholders. DTI has now commenced work on the refurbishment of this building. The total cost incurred during the period the building has been empty is £4.4 million up to 9 November 1993.

Toxics Release Inventory

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to introduce a toxics release inventory for pollution management along the lines of the system used by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Mr. Yeo : As announced in April this year, an annual inventory of releases of polluting substances, from processes subject to regulation by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution under the integrated pollution control system introduced by part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and under radioactive substances legislation, is being established. Detailed information will be available through the public register arrangements under both regimes and the first inventory data will be published in due course.

Biodiversity

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he last met the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme to discuss the United Nations treaty on biodiversity.

Mr. Yeo : I met Elizabeth Dowdeswell, the executive director of UNEP, earlier this month when she was on a short visit to the United Kingdom. We discussed a number of issues of common interest including the convention on biological diversity.

National Recycling Forum

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment at what level his Department was represented at the National Recycling Forum's annual meeting on 24 and 25 November.

Mr. Yeo : My Department maintains a wide range of contacts on recycling with businesses, trade associations, local authorities and voluntary bodies but was not represented at the National Recycling Forum's annual meeting in November.

Development Agencies

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the development agencies together with their directors ; and how much has been paid to each director, including expenses, in each of the past five years and this year to date.

Mr. Gummer : Information about the remuneration of chairmen, deputy chairmen and members appointed to


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non-departmental public bodies for which I am responsible is contained in the annual HMSO publication "Public Bodies", copies of which are held in the House of Commons library. "Public Bodies 1993" will be published shortly. I shall write with a list of current board members. Similar lists for ions

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has received from the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers regarding the proposals arising from its recent study on dioxin emissions from VCM and PVC plants.

Mr. Yeo : My Department is not aware of having received any information from the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers regarding its recent study on "dioxin" emissions from VCM and PVC plants.

Housing

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of council properties in England is unfit to rent.

Sir George Young : Local authorities report the numbers of their own dwellings that are unfit, whether occupied or not, in their annual housing investment programme--HIP1--returns.

Some 150,000 council properties in England, 4 per cent. of the total number of local authority dwellings, were reported as unfit at 1 April 1993.

Waste Management Licences

Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects waste disposal licences under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 to convert automatically to waste management licences under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Mr. Yeo : It is the Government's intention to bring the waste management licensing provisions of part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 into force on 1 May 1994. Waste disposal licences will convert automatically to waste management licences on that day.

Council Tax

Mr. Hutton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many appeals against banding under the council tax have been made in the current year ; what is the average length of time taken to hear those appeals ; and how many were successful.

Mr. Baldry : I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Greenwich(Mr. Raynsford) on Friday 26 November, Official Report, column 259.

A meaningful figure cannot yet be given on the average length of time taken to hear appeals, since a great many cases are being settled by agreement between the taxpayer and the Valuation Office agency, and only a few have been transmitted as appeals to valuation tribunals.


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Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant

Mr. Ainger : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether he has received written representations from the European Commission or any EC member states concerning an environmental impact assessment of THORP under EC directive 85/337/EEC ;

(2) if he will list those countries which have written to his Department concerning an environmental impact assessment of THORP under EC directive 85/337/EEC ; and what his reply was, placing copies of all correspondence in the Library, including copies of any correspondence with the Commission.

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the European Commission inquiry into the legality of the THORP project.


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Mr. Yeo [holding answer 24 November 1993] : The United Kingdom has received a letter from the Commission seeking information in relation to the thermal oxide reprocessing plant at Sellafield in Cumbria. Since the start of the second consultation period on the revised draft authorisations for Sellafield, letters referring to directive 85/337/EEC have been received from Ministers of the Republic of Ireland and Denmark, and Ministers of Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands have written about environmental impact assessments in connection with Parcom recommendation 93/5. Correspondence between the United Kingdom and the Commission or foreign Governments is treated in confidence.


 

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