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19 Apr 1995 : Column WA49

Written Answers

Wednesday 19th April 1995

Child Support Benefit: Expenditure

Lord Simon of Glaisdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What annual savings to the Exchequer were estimated as the effect of the Child Support Act 1991.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The reduction in benefit expenditure, and hence in the burden on the taxpayer, estimated at the time of the launch of the Child Support Agency was £530 million (93/94); £665 million (94/95); £805 million (95/96). Savings beyond that period were estimated to be of the order of £800 million a year.

School Effectiveness Funding

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many local education authorities made bids for funding under the GEST School Effectiveness Basic Curriculum and Assessment Section (1995–96) and how many did not.

Lord Lucas: Allocations for School effectiveness (SE) funding in 1995–96, which includes basic curriculum and assessment in its coverage, were offered to every LEA by a formula based on school and pupil numbers, rather than by a bidding process. No LEA has turned down the original SE funding offered, although 10 have asked for less money.

School Books and Equipment: Data Records

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the Department for Education has ceased to collect separate statistics of school expenditure on text books and library books from local education authorities.

Lord Lucas: Since 1992–93, in England and Wales, data has been collected on a combined basis for expenditure on books and equipment. The previous split between books and equipment had become increasingly arbitrary, and not all local authorities' returns gave separate figures for the two. With increasing delegation of budgets, schools did not always separate their expenditure on books from that relating to the growing use of computers, tapes, videos and other non-printed matter.

UK Waste Arisings

Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the statistics recorded in Social Trends for United Kingdom waste arisings showed a drop from 700 million tonnes in 1992 to 400 million tonnes in

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    1993 and 1994, and why the 1995 edition does not give any statistics on the subject.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): Estimates of waste arisings in the UK are generally very imprecise. An annual series, showing trends over time, is not available for most types of waste. The fall of approximately 300 million tonnes in UK waste arisings between the figures quoted in 1992 and that quoted in 1993 is not therefore a reflection of a reduction in the amount of waste produced; it is primarily a result of a revision of both the definition of wastes and the methods used to estimate waste arisings. The main changes are a reduction of around 120 million tonnes in estimates of wastes from mining and quarrying activities, which were previously thought to be overestimated, and a reduction of around 170 million tonnes in estimates of agricultural waste, to exclude waste from grazing animals which was previously included in the estimate (only housed animal waste is now included). A fuller description of the changes was given in the Digest of Environmental Protection and Water Statistics. No. 14 and No. 15.

The topics covered in Social Trends change from year to year to maintain topicality and ensure that over a period of time a wide range of topics and sources are covered. Statistics on UK waste arisings were omitted from the 1995 edition of Social Trends because figures were unchanged from those available in 1994.

Statutory Instruments

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many (a) negative and (b) affirmative statutory instruments were laid before Parliament in: (i) the first three months of 1995; (ii) each of the last five years; (iii) 1985; (iv) 1980;

    What proportion of the statutory instruments laid before Parliament in: (i) the first three months of 1995; (ii) each of the last five years; (iii) 1985; (iv) 1980; were instruments which translated European Communities legislation into United Kingdom law; and

    How many of the negative statutory instruments laid before Parliament in: (i) the first three months of 1995; (ii) each of the last five years; (iii) 1985; (iv) 1980; were (a) passed without debate; (b) debated;

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    (c) prayed against; (d) set aside; and what proportion of each of these categories (a) to (c) were of European origin.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): The information requested could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

"Acquis Communautaire"

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with the statement made by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey that "the acquis communautaire is not sacred, nor is it untouchable" (H.L. Deb. 8/3/95, col. 353), and if so, whether they believe that that view is shared by any other country of the European Union.

Lord Inglewood: The "acquis communautaire" is not defined in the Community treaties. It is the sum of what has been achieved since the founding of the Communities by the development and establishment of Community law and practice. This can be developed and changed wherever appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of the treaties. Examples of change include the subsidiary review of existing legislation and the deregulation initiative undertaken by the Commission at the Brussels European Council in December 1993. This initiative has the support of all the member states of the Union.

European Union: Representation Abroad

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the institutions of the European Union employ people outside the union's borders who fulfil what would normally be regarded as diplomatic duties; if so, how many such staff are so employed in which locations and at what cost.

Lord Inglewood: The European Commission has 121 diplomatic missions in countries outside the EU's borders. These offices perform some of the functions of a diplomatic mission. The European Parliament and the Council have no representations outside the European Union. The Commission has published full information on the activities of its representatives abroad in its General Report on the Activities of the European Union in 1994 a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands: Right of Individual Petition

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answers of the Baroness Chalker of Wallasey, 1 March (WA 97), 20 March

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    (WA 55) and 5 April (WA 18), when and in what manner the decision not to renew the acceptance of the right of individual petition in respect of the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands under Article 25 of the European Convention on Human Rights was notified to the UN Human Rights Committee.

Lord Inglewood: The fact that the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands had decided not to renew their acceptance of the right of individual petition under Article 25 of the European Convention on Human Rights was brought to the attention of the Human Rights Committee in the course of the presentation to the Committee of the United Kingdom's third periodic report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

London Taxi Fares: Increase

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there is going to be an increase in London taxi fares this year.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): The Government have made an order increasing London taxi fares by about 4.44 per cent. on average with effect from Saturday 22 April 1995. The new tariff will incorporate a minimum fare of £1.20 (including a hire charge of 80p) for the first 513 metres (561.22 yards) or 111 seconds. The rate will then be 20p for every 256.5 metres (280.61 yards) or 55.5 seconds up to 6 miles and 20p for each 171 metres (187.07 yards) or 37 seconds thereafter. The Government have decided that there will be no increase this year in the fees for London taxi driver and vehicle licences, currently £87 and £78 respectively.

British Coal: Contamination Liabilities

Lord Northbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all liabilities for contamination, both actual and potential, were transferred by the National Coal Board to British Coal.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade of Industry (Earl Ferrers): In 1987, the National Coal Board acquired a new name, the British Coal Corporation, but it remained the same legal entity.

Lord Northbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether British Coal has transferred to British Coal Properties any liabilities as polluter arising from, or which may in the future arise from, any contamination in, on or under any abandoned mine sites which it has transferred to British Coal Properties, in, on or under adjacent sites.

Earl Ferrers: British Coal Property is a division of the British Coal Corporation. Any liabilities relating to

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land managed by British Coal Property Division remain liabilities of the corporation.


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