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Viscount Caldecote: My Lords, what action are the Government taking to prevent diesel-fuelled lorries producing unnecessary pollution because their engines are not properly maintained? Is it true that the fitting of filters to remove particulates from diesel-engined vehicles is easier than the fitting of catalytic converters for other fuels?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, to answer my noble friend's first point, there is a two-strand approach to the problem. One is the regular test which all HGVs must undertake. There are stringent rules on emissions and levels of particulates that can be emitted by the engine. We are also pursuing an intensive programme of roadside checks. On the question of particulate filters, it is true that such filters can be put in place. Again, they have a significant role to play in reducing the emission of particulates but there is still a great deal of development work to be done on their use.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, is there any other particulate other than diesel or sulphur emission? What is it all about?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, without wishing to state the obvious, a particulate is a particle. It is a small piece of matter that is emitted by the process of fossil fuel combustion. In vehicles they are mainly composed of molecules of carbon on to which molecules of partly burned fuel and sulphates are readily attached. Sulphur, which we have discussed, is part of the problem but it is not the whole problem.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove: My Lords, this is an important Question, particularly for city centres which receive the blast of diesel fumes. Unless I have wrongly read the report of the urban air review group, domestic pollution is probably greater than vehicle

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pollution with something like 1 per cent. arising from diesel cars, 9 per cent. from petrol and light goods vehicles, 1 per cent. from heavy goods vehicles and 47 per cent. from domestic fuel. Are we getting things out of balance? Can the Government give a simple explanation as to whether pollution from diesel vehicles is all that much worse than from a diesel central heating plant?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, my information is that the emission of particulates from road vehicles of all types accounts for some 26 per cent. of the total emission of particulates into the atmosphere of this country. It is extremely important that we take action on all fronts. The road vehicles category is clearly important. We can make progress; it is important that we concentrate our efforts on that.

Baroness Seear: My Lords, will the noble Viscount take action to provide information about the issue to the country in general? Originally we were told that diesel was environmentally friendly. Some of us have now experienced--I speak as one who has--considerable adverse affects from being exposed to diesel. I do not believe that the public are sufficiently aware of the dangers involved.

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, the noble Baroness makes an important point. Assessing whether there is advantage in having petrol or diesel engined vehicles is a very complex issue. One puts out more emissions of one type and the other of another type. Clearly, diesel vehicles offer better fuel economy and they have an important advantage in terms of the total quantity of pollutants that they emit. However, they have a significant difficulty with the high level of particulate emissions.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, is the noble Viscount aware of the experiments in Reading regarding alternative fuels which have proved very successful? If so, will he take heed of the plea to reduce the tax on those alternative fuels which would be very much in favour of the environment? Are the Government also examining ways and means of bringing back the trolley bus to our streets? It is the cleanest, best and most efficient form of public transport that we have ever invented.

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, on the latter question, a considerable number of public transport initiatives are taking place using innovative means. I am not aware of the specific tests in Reading to which the noble Lord referred. However, I can tell the noble Lord that the duty on road fuel gases--that is, compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas--was frozen in two 1994 Budgets and reduced by 15 per cent. in the 1995 Budget. The thrust of his question is the duty imposed on alternative fuels. I hope that that answers it.

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Long-term Unemployment

3.14 p.m.

Lord McCarthy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps have been taken to implement the Workstart scheme and the one-year national insurance holiday, proposals to assist the long-term unemployed, set out in the Budget Statement of 29th November 1994.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Lord Henley): My Lords, draft regulations to introduce the national insurance holiday for employers were laid before both Houses on 12th December last year and, subject to parliamentary approval, this measure will start from April 1996.

The second group of Workstart pilots, which were announced in the 1994 Budget Statement, began in April this year and recruitment will end in March 1996. A full evaluation will be carried out. Workstart subsidies will also be available to those participating in the Project Work pilots in Medway and Maidstone, and Hull.

Lord McCarthy: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that this is a remarkable change in government policy? In 1994 the Chancellor announced both those policies as a matter of urgency. Nothing has yet been done to implement either of them. The Government have received a study of the Workstart programme which indicates that six out of 10 of the people on that programme benefited from it. Therefore, for £2,340 we can save £5,700. As a result of that, surely the Government should introduce Workstart on a much wider scale than another pilot suggests.

Finally, what is the cost of the one-year holiday scheme? Will that cost £2,340, or less or more? How many people do the Government think will be covered by that scheme.

Lord Henley: My Lords, what the noble Lord states is nonsense. We have done a great deal. We have started and finished two of the pilots, as the noble Lord well knows, and evaluation of those two pilots has now taken place. Initially evaluation suggests, as the noble Lord was prepared to admit, that it had a positive effect on employers' willingness to recruit long-term unemployed people. Obviously we shall learn more from the second stage. That is the point of the pilots. That is why we pilot those programmes.

The national insurance contribution holiday took a little more time to be brought into effect because of the complications of the rules relating to national insurance contributions. However, as the noble Lord knows, it will come into effect subject to parliamentary approval in April of this year, as I made clear in my original Answer. It is designed to help around 130,000 people and will offer to business about £50 million in reduced labour costs.

Lord Clark of Kempston: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that whatever the success of the

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Workstart scheme it would be impaired if we were to subscribe to the social chapter or have a minimum wage?

Lord Henley: My Lords, I can assure my noble friend that we have no intention of subscribing to the social chapter or having a minimum wage.

The important point is that the schemes are pilots and not whether or not they are a success. They test out new, innovative approaches to dealing with the problems of the long-term unemployed. As a result of those tests, we hope to come forward with appropriate solutions to that problem.

Lord Barnett: My Lords, my noble friend the Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Lords was told yesterday that the Government do not believe that there is any way in which they can help to create jobs. Is not this scheme one way, or have the Government changed their policy since yesterday?

Lord Henley: My Lords, that is not what I said yesterday to the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition. I said that it was not the business of the Government to create jobs. It is the business of the Government to create the right environment in which jobs can grow. It is not the aim of the schemes to create jobs. They are designed to help the long-term unemployed back into work. Because the long-term unemployed are more greatly divorced from the labour market, their problems are that much greater than those who are recently unemployed.

Lord Rochester: My Lords, aside from the two schemes to which the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, referred, are the Government considering any other measures--for example, in the field of training--aimed at alleviating the plight of the long-term unemployed?

Lord Henley: My Lords, I could rattle off a whole list of different schemes in which the Department for Education and Employment has been engaged for a long time. Perhaps it would be best if I merely concentrate on the latest one which I also mentioned in my initial Answer. It is Project Work, a scheme designed again to help the long-term unemployed by a system whereby their benefits will be at risk if they do not take part in certain schemes. That will be available for those who are unemployed for over two years. That scheme will start as a pilot in Medway and Maidstone, and Hull, shortly.

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