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Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what co- operation he is offering to Dr. Roger Sutcliffe of the department of human genetics at the university of Glasgow for his proposal of a pilot study into miscarriages, still births, respiratory problems or low resistance to infection among babies born of Gulf war veterans.
Mr. Soames: My Department wrote on 7 March to the department of medical genetics at the university of Glasgow seeking clarification of Dr. Sutcliffe's views and further details of his proposal for a study. We also set out figures of service birth rates and information which indicates that the incidence of miscarriages, still births, birth defects and infant morbidity among families of Gulf veterans is no greater than the national average and has not changed since the Gulf conflict. My Department continues, however, to assess all available information and will give full consideration to Dr. Sutcliffe's views.
Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the number of applicants for bursaries awarded to university students, by gender, under his Department's arrangements for officer entry, in each year since 1990 91. 
Royal Navy Army Royal Air ForcCivilian |Male |Female|Male |Female|Male |Female|Male |Female ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 1990-91 |146 |43 |406 |27 |1,019 |186 |- |- 1991-92 |152 |35 |389 |25 |987 |158 |- |- 1992-93 |80 |15 |362 |23 |659 |126 |- |- 1993-94 |148 |40 |303 |27 |974 |178 |- |- 1994-95 |134 |33 |291 |43 |740 |166 |570 |90 Notes: Figures for the Royal Air Force are for applications for bursaries and cadetships. It is not possible to provide separate figures. Information for civilians is available only for the present financial year.
Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list all the visits he has made since the start of the current parliamentary Session to the constituencies of other hon. Members, without prior warning to those hon. Members, for any purpose connected with his departmental responsibilities. 
Mr. Soames: In accordance with the guidance contained in "Questions of Procedure for Ministers" it is the practice of MOD Ministers to inform hon. Members in advance of any visits to their constituencies.
There has been one case in the current parliamentary Session, however, where due to an administrative
Column 118oversight not all hon. Members whose constituencies were affected by a particular ministerial visit were informed in advance. Immediate action was taken to rectify this, however, when the error became apparent.
Mr. Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many unscheduled stops there have been involving truck cargo heavy duty mark 2 vehicles since January 1994; and if he will provide a breakdown of the circumstances which resulted in these incidents.
Mr. Soames: Between January 1994 and 13 March 1995 there were four occasions on which truck cargo heavy duty mark 2 vehicles were obliged to make unscheduled stops to deal with technical problems. The circumstances are set out in the table.
TCHD Mark 2 Operational Convoy unscheduled stops (29 January 1994 to 13 March 1995) Cause Serial |Date |Location |Fault |Quality |Design |Rectification |Delay time number --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 |6 June 1994 |M1, Tibshelf near |Knocking sound from |- |- |Precautionary stop, no|33 minutes |Mansfield |tractor unit |fault found 2 |7 June 1994 |A696, South of |Air pressure warning |- |- |Air pressure found |34 minutes |Otterburn |buzzer sounded |satisfactory 3 |2 August 1994 |A68, SE of Edinburgh |"Clonking" sound |- |- |Precautionary stop, no|26 minutes |when turning |fault found 4 |21 September 1994 |A696, near Ponteland |Discharge from sump |X |- |Tractor unit changed |oil connecting pipe |minutes Note: <1> The fault developed shortly after departure. After replacement of the spare tractor unit the convoy returned to await arrival of a substitute spare unit. Movement therefore suspended for 24 hours.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Construction output increased by 3 per cent. last year and modest yet sustained growth looks set to continue. My Department continues to work with the industry to monitor activity levels in the different sectors, and to promote competitiveness and success in export markets.
Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the standards for hazardous waste incinerators and for cement kilns of emissions of (a) particulates, (b) oxides of nitrogen and (c) sulphur dioxide.
Mr. Atkins: Under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, existing hazardous waste incinerators and cement kilns are required to meet the following limits for emissions to the atmosphere:
|Sulphur |Oxides of |dioxide |nitrogen |Particulates Plant |mg/m<3> |mg/m<3> |mg/m<3> -------------------------------------------------------------------- Hazardous waste incinerators |50<1> |350<1> |20<1> Cement kilns |750<2> |Wet kilns = |50<2> |1800<2> |Dry kilns = |1200 <1>To be met by 1 December 1996.<2>To be met by 1 April 1997. <3>To be met by 1 April 1998.
These limits are set out in Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution guidance notes.
So far as cement kilns are concerned, the figures in the table relate to operations where conventional coal/petroleum coke is being used as fuel. If cement kiln operations using substitute liquid fuel to replace a portion of coal/petroleum coke are authorised under the Act, then that part of the emissions that originates from the substitute fuel will be controlled to the above incinerator limits, while that part of the emissions which originates from coal/petroleum coke will be controlled to the above cement kiln limits. Taking sulphur dioxide as an example, if all of the conventional fuel is replaced with substitute fuel, then a limit of 50 mg/m will apply. If however, the replacement is only 30 per cent., then 30 per cent. of the emissions, those generated from the substitute fuel, will
Column 119be required to meet 50 mg/m , while the rest will be required to meet 750 mg/m .
Mr. Austin-Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list for each London borough (a) the numbers of applicants currently on the council housing waiting lists, (b) the total central Government funding for new rented housing association homes for 1995 96, excluding TIS, DIYSO and major repairs or sale programmes, (c) the sum which would have been available if original funding intentions as set out in the
Column 1201992 Autumn Statement had been maintained, (d) the estimated number of homes that will be built with the money now available and (e) the estimated number of homes that could have been built if funding had been provided at the original proposed funding level as set out in (c) ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Robert B. Jones [holding answer 16 March 1995]: Allocations made to London boroughs from the Housing Corporations's 1995 96 approved development programme for the provision of new rented housing are listed below together with the Housing Corporation's estimate of what the allocations may have been if funding plans in the 1992 Autumn Statement had been maintained.
|1992 Autumn |statement Local authority |Allocation |Related units |estimated |Related units |allocation |£'000s |£'000s ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Barking and Dagenham |1,415 |46 |3,561 |116 Barnet |3,610 |81 |9,084 |204 Bexley |1,159 |68 |2,916 |171 Brent |5,827 |117 |14,663 |294 Bromley |1,997 |92 |5,025 |232 Camden |7,722 |146 |19,432 |367 Croydon |4,457 |138 |11,215 |347 Ealing |8,020 |166 |20,180 |418 Enfield |3,682 |114 |9,265 |287 Greenwich |4,712 |126 |11,856 |317 Hackney |12,054 |296 |30,332 |745 Hammersmith and Fulham |6,945 |137 |17,475 |345 Haringey |9,788 |179 |24,629 |450 Harrow |2,123 |50 |5,343 |126 Havering |1,235 |49 |3,107 |123 Hillingdon |8,137 |241 |20,475 |606 Hounslow |4,386 |103 |11,036 |259 Islington |7,028 |136 |17,685 |342 Kensington and Chelsea |5,701 |151 |14,345 |380 Kingston upon Thames |1,941 |91 |4,884 |229 Lambeth |8,382 |158 |21,091 |398 Lewisham |4,870 |109 |12,255 |274 Merton |2,125 |303 |5,347 |762 Newham |8,149 |241 |20,506 |606 Redbridge |2,648 |82 |6,664 |206 Richmond upon Thames |2,057 |61 |5,175 |153 Southwark |4,784 |137 |12,038 |345 Sutton |1,347 |32 |3,390 |81 Tower Hamlets |3,976 |91 |10,005 |229 Waltham Forest |4,288 |121 |10,790 |304 Wandsworth |5,826 |80 |14,661 |201 Westminster |11,242 |252 |28,288 |634
Further social lettings will also be made available through vacancies in local authority and housing association properties; through the Housing Corporation's home ownership initiatives; through housing association developments funded by local authority housing association grant; and through the cash incentive scheme. The number of households on local authority housing waiting lists in London on 1 April 1994 is given in section B of the "1994 HIP1 All Items Print", a copy of which is in the Library.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Prior to 1993 figures for receipts resulting from council tenants exercising their right to buy from local authorities were not separately collected by the Department. However, between the introduction of the
Column 120right to buy in 1980 and the end of September 1994, the total value of council dwelling sales to sitting tenants, net of discounts is estimated to be £19.0 billion.
The number of sales to local authority sitting tenants during this period was almost 1,300,000, and 92 per cent. of such sales resulted from tenants exercising their right to buy.
Information on the value of right-to-buy sales to sitting tenants of new towns and housing associations is not available.
Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many local authority owned houses and flats have been sold, to date, since the introduction of the right to buy in each local authority area in England. 
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Tables showing the available information on total right-to-buy sales for each English local authority for every financial year since 1980 and a cumulative total to March 1994 are in the Library.
Column 121In addition, the tables also give data on total sales and on the number of flats sold.
Column 122the lowest record on collecting council tax, the cash and percentage owed and the political control of each authority.
|1993-94 council |taxes |received as a |Uncollected council |Political control as |percentage of |taxes as |at |annual net |at 31 March 1994<2> |February 1995 |collectable |debit<1> |£000 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lambeth |48.4 |25,597 |Noc Hackney |67.5 |12,824 |Lab Islington |69.3 |<3>10,300 |Lab Southwark |73.1 |7,693 |Lab Newham |73.4 |7,703 |Lab Haringey |74.0 |10,917 |Lab Camden |81.4 |8,742 |Lab Waltham Forest |82.2 |7,043 |Noc Lewisham |82.5 |5,617 |Lab Tower Hamlets |84.3 |<3>2,600 |Lab <1> Based on information supplied to the Department in May 1994. <2> Based on information published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) in its Revenue Collection Statistics 1993-94 publication. <3> No information was published by CIPFA for these two authorities: the figure shown is the Department's estimate based on information supplied in May 1994.
Mr. Dunn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much is owed to the London borough of Lambeth in (a) domestic rates, (b) community charge and (c) council tax; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Information on uncollected domestic rates, community charge and council tax for each local authority is not available centrally. However, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy regularly publish estimates for individual authorities: figures for 31 March 1994 are available in their Revenue Collection Statistics 1993 94 publication, and are as follows:
|Arrears outstanding |at |31 March 1994 for |Lambeth |(£000) ------------------------------------------------------------ Domestic rates |12,917 Community charge |84,895 Council tax |29,597
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Local authorities housing investment programme- -HIP1--returns for 1994 show that on 1 April a total of 3,615,504 local authority dwellings were occupied or available for letting in England. Of these, 451,112 were within the Yorkshire and Humberside region.
recommendations made in the first report of the Government's panel on sustainable development.
Mr. Atkins: There has been a reduction of the order of 40 per cent. in the use of phosphates in detergents since the early 1990s, due to the presence in the market place of phosphate-free detergents. The imminent inclusion of detergents in the EC ecolabelling scheme will give an incentive to manufacturers to reduce the content of phosphates in detergents still further. There are some unresolved questions about replacement of phosphates in detergents and the Government have no plans to require substitution.
Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list all the visits he has made since the start of the current parliamentary Session to the constituencies of other hon. Members, without prior warning to those hon. Members, for any purpose connected with his departmental responsibilities. 
Mr. Gummer: My practice is to ensure that hon. Members have prior warning of all departmental visits that I make to their constituencies; so far as I am aware, this has been achieved for all the visits that I have made in the current parliamentary Session.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will announce decisions on the future structure of the remaining shire counties for which he had final reports from the Local Government Commission. 
Mr. Gummer: I can now announce my decisions on the remaining 12 shire counties as follows. In all cases I have considered the commission's reports and the representations I have received. In the process I have taken into account the transitional and ongoing costs and the viability of the structures--both of unitary authorities and remaining two-tier arrangements--which will result from my decisions. In each case I am satisfied that on balance my decision will best reflect the identities and interests of local communities and will best secure effective and convenient local government.
I have decided to accept the Local Government Commission's final recommendations for Derbyshire that Derby city be given unitary authority status and that the existing two-tier structure be retained in the rest of the county.
The case for a unitary Derby city is compelling. Derby is a former county borough and was responsible for the broad range of local government services prior to 1974. It has a population of 227,000 and is larger than many metropolitan boroughs and London boroughs. The commission found that about two thirds of local people identified strongly with the city area.
On Staffordshire, I have accepted the commission's recommendation that there should be a unitary authority for Stoke-on-Trent, with the addition of a small area of Barlaston from the Stafford borough area, and that elsewhere in the county the status quo should be retained. The case for a unitary Stoke is strong. It is a former county borough with a large and concentrated population in excess of 250,000, and the commission has identified a strong sense of community identity within the city council area. I agree with the commission that the remainder of the county outside Stoke, with a county council and eight districts, will continue to be fully viable.
In the case of Wiltshire, I have decided to accept the commission's recommendation that there should be a unitary authority for the present borough area of Thamesdown (Swindon) and that there should be no change to the existing two-tier arrangements in the rest of the county of Wiltshire.
The case for a unitary Thamesdown is strong. It is a significant urban area, with a population in excess of 170,000, where the commission identified a strong and distinct sense of community identity and an independent economy. I agree with the commission's conclusion that a unitary authority for Thamesdown would offer the opportunity to improve the co-ordination, effectiveness and delivery of services and facilitate the co -ordination
Column 124of these services with other public bodies, the business community and the voluntary sector.
For East Sussex I have decided to accept the commission's recommendation that a unitary authority should be created by merging the present borough areas of Brighton and Hove, and that there should be no change to the existing two-tier arrangements in the rest of the county.
While I recognise the feeling in Brighton and Hove of separate identifies, in practical terms they form a continuous conurbation. I agree with the commission's conclusion that the balance of advantage lies with the establishment of a single unitary authority, which would have physical coherence, be of sufficient size and compactness to be self sufficient and accessible, and have a good infrastructure. I am satisfied that such an authority would be well placed to deliver the full range of local services.
On Devon, I accept the commission's recommendation of unitary authorities for Plymouth and Torbay, with the continuation of the two-tier structure elsewhere in Devon, subject to any review of Exeter which I might ask the commission to conduct.
Both Plymouth and Torbay are former county boroughs which have previously been responsible for the broad range of local government services. Plymouth, with a population of over 250,000, is the fourth most populous non-metropolitan district. It is a significant and well defined urban area which is distinct from the neighbouring rural areas.
For Torbay, while its population is smaller--around 120,000--it is one of the largest resorts in Great Britain. Like Plymouth, it has a distinctive identity from the surrounding rural areas, reflecting its relatively self- sufficient economy and low level of interdependence with the rest of Devon. The commission found strong local support for a unitary authority for Torbay, including from business and other local bodies. I consider that the remainder of the county will retain its viability.
I have decided to accept the commission's proposal that Nottingham city should gain unitary status.
The city has a substantial population of 285,000; it is the third largest non-metropolitan district in England and is larger than most existing metropolitan and London boroughs. It was formerly a county borough. The city is distinct from most of the rest of the county and has specific needs which I believe could be more effectively addressed by a unitary city authority. The commission found that the majority of local people in Nottingham identify strongly with the city.
As I announced on 2 March, some of the arguments the commission put forward in favour of a unitary authority for Nottingham could equally be applied to the neighbouring districts of Broxtowe, Gedling and Rushcliffe. I am considering whether to refer these three districts to the commission for a further review so that the case for unitary authorities in the greater Nottingham area can be thoroughly explored. Subject to this consideration, I accept the case for retaining the existing two-tier structure in the rest of the county.
For Essex, I have decided to accept the commission's recommendation that Southend-on-Sea should become a unitary authority, with the rest of the county remaining two-tier. The commission also recommended that Southend's boundaries should be extended to include Southend airport. I think this needs further exploration and I may ask the commission in due course to look at the matter again.
There is a strong case for a unitary Southend, given its population size and density, the high level of community identity with the borough council area which the commission found, and its former status as a county borough. I accept the commission's view that a unitary Southend could provide the broad range of local government services within its area in a way which is effective, convenient, accessible and responsive to local needs.
The commission also recommended significant boundary changes between Basildon, Brentwood and Rochford. In my statement to the House on 2 March, I said that I had in mind to include the districts of Thurrock and Basildon among those where I shall be asking the commission to carry out fresh reviews. I have accordingly decided it would not be appropriate to reach a decision on the proposed boundary changes affecting Basildon until the outcome of those reviews is known.
Hereford and Worcester
In the case of Hereford and Worcester, I have decided to accept the commission's recommendation that there should be a unitary authority for the area of the "traditional" Herefordshire, and that the existing two-tier structure should be retained in the "traditional" area of Worcestershire. The "traditional" area of Herefordshire comprises the areas of Hereford city, South Herefordshire, the western part of Malvern hills and Leominster except for the Tenbury area. The "traditional" area of Worcestershire comprises the districts of Wyre Forest, Bromsgrove, Redditch, Worcester city and Wychavon, with a new district to be established covering the eastern part of the Malvern hills and the area of Tenbury.
Prior to the reorganisation of local government in 1974, Herefordshire and Worcestershire were two separate counties for both administrative and ceremonial purposes. The merger in 1974 has proved to be very unpopular and the evidence presented to the commission suggests that the merger have not earned the loyalty of the local people.
I consider that the Worcestershire element of the present county, with approximately 77 per cent. of the existing county's population, would be viable. I also agree with the commission about the viability of a unitary Herefordshire. A number of services such as education and social services are currently run on the basis of the "Herefordshire" boundary and the commission is satisfied that the full range of services can be provided by a unitary Herefordshire. I also accept the commission's recommendation for new electoral arrangements for the new unitary Herefordshire and the remaining county and districts in Worcestershire.
I am minded to accept the commission's recommendation that there should be a unitary authority for the city of Leicester. It has a long history of unitary government and there seems to be strong support for a
Column 126return to that status. Leicester is the second largest of the non-metropolitan districts and I believe that it will be able to fulfil the functions of a unitary authority effectively and conveniently. I also believe that the reduced county council will be viable.
Having weighed all the arguments, I am minded to accept the commission's recommendation that there should be a unitary authority in Rutland. The strength of local identity is very clear and there is definite support for a unitary authority.
There are, however, understandable concerns about whether Rutland could provide effective local government, given its small size, and about the financial implications of reorganisation. Before an order implementing change for Rutland is introduced, I shall want to be satisfied that the authority has been able to make good practical arrangements for local services; that the authority have fully assessed the overall financial implications; that the costs can be paid for within the same financial arrangements and constraints that apply to other reorganised authorities. I expect that at least for some services, some form of joint working may be needed.
Having weighed all the arguments, I have accepted part of the commission's structural recommendations--namely unitary authorities for Portsmouth and Southampton--but rejected the recommendation for the New Forest so that it, and the rest of the county of Hampshire, will remain two-tier.
There is a strong case for unitary authorities for the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton. Both are former county boroughs with a history of unitary local government and are amongst the largest, and most densely populated, non-metropolitan district councils. Portsmouth and Southampton, with populations of around 180,000 and 200,000 respectively are comparable in this respect with the urban unitary authorities in London and the metropolitan counties. There is support for unitary status locally, and the city councils are confident about their ability to deliver services, establishing where necessary joint arrangements with each other and with the county council.
However, the position in New Forest is much less clear. Whilst it is one of the larger non-metropolitan districts in terms of population (around 160,000), it is a largely rural area. It has no tradition of unitary local government and popular opinion is finely balanced. Doubts have been expressed about the fragmentation of services in a strongly rural district which has no large town to give it focus and identity. I have decided, therefore, not to accept the commission's recommendation for a unitary authority for the New Forest.
Having weighed all the arguments, I have accepted part of the commission's structural recommendations--namely unitary authorities for Bournemouth and Poole--but rejected its proposal that there should be two unitary authorities in the rest of the county. Outside the two boroughs, the county will remain two--tier.
There is a strong case for unitary authorities in Bournemouth and Poole, which is now also accepted by the county council. The two boroughs are distinct within the largely rural county and each has a strong sense of community identity. The population of each is already large and I have little doubt that they would each be able
Column 127to provide all local authority services, especially with further growth expected in Poole.
The position outside Bournemouth and Poole is much less clear. Community identity in the area tends to have a very local emphasis and popular opinion is finely balanced. Doubts have also been expressed about the viability of the two largely rural authorities. Berkshire
On Berkshire, having weighed all the arguments, I have largely accepted the commission's final recommendations for the county's future structure, but with a modification. I accept the recommendation that Reading, Newbury, Slough, and Wokingham should become unitary authorities on the boundaries of the present district areas. However, I propose to modify the recommendation that a unitary authority be created based on a merger of the district areas of Bracknell Forest and Windsor and Maidenhead, and instead create two unitary authorities based on the existing district areas. The present two-tier structure in Berkshire will therefore be replaced by six unitary authorities based on existing district areas.
The commission found a strong and well supported case for an all unitary structure in Berkshire from the outset of the review. The case for unitary status for
Column 128Reading, Newbury and Slough is particularly strong; Reading is a former county borough with a predominantly urban and district character; Slough is a densely populated urban area which is a significant industrial and retail centre with an infrastructure to reflect this; Newbury is a predominantly rural area quite distinct from the rest of the county, relating more to areas in neighbouring counties. While there was less unanimity about the best structure for the rest of the county area, on balance I consider that unitary status for each of the remaining districts--Wokingham, Bracknell Forest and Windsor and Maidenhead--will on balance best serve the needs of community identity and effective local government, and that unitary authorities based on the existing districts are capable of delivering the full range of services. The county's geography, coupled with the marked diversity across its area, give it a particularly strong case for an all unitary structure.
The county area for Berkshire will be retained, but it will no longer have a county council.
I have now considered my decisions on all the commission's structural recommendations. I am still considering a number of outstanding recommendations on other matters, and will announce my decisions on these in due course.