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Private Sector Housing Renewal: Funding

Lord Finsberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

Earl Ferrers: Clauses 91 and 134 of the Bill authorise the Secretary of State for the Environment, to make contributions to local housing authorities towards expenditure incurred by them under Part 1 and clause 127 of the Bill.

Resources will continue to be distributed to local housing authorities in England as part of their annual Housing Investment Programme allocation. However, from 1 April 1997 the allocations for private sector renewal and disabled facilities grants will be made as two separate allocations.

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Disabled facilities grants will continue to be supported through "specified capital grant" to reimburse 60 per cent. actual eligible expenditure. A guideline allocation will be notified to local authorities and a supplementary credit approval up to the guideline allocation will also be provided.

All other expenditure under these provisions will be supported by a specific capital grant to reimburse 60 per cent. of expenditure up to a cash limit notified to each authority.

The exchequer support for eligible expenditure incurred up to 31 March 1997 will be paid under the present arrangements.

English Nature: Review

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make an announcement about the current financial, management and policy review of English Nature.

Earl Ferrers: In response to the Government's requirement that all executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies be subjected to regular and detailed scrutiny at least every five years, my department is conducting a financial management and policy review of English Nature.

The review will draw on work which has already been done on the study into the possible merger between English Nature and the Countryside Commission, the results of which were announced by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment on 7 October 1994. The current review will encompass English Nature's organisation and structure; general and financial management; and systems of financial control. The scope for further contractorisation of English Nature's work will be specifically addressed by the review.

The review is due to be completed by mid June 1996.

Environment Agency: Committee Membership

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the Environment Agency's proposals for the membership of its regional environment protection advisory committees.

Earl Ferrers: The agency has submitted, under Section 12 of the Environment Act 1995, membership schemes for its regional environment protection advisory committees in England. At the same time, it has brought the schemes to the attention of persons likely to be interested in them, who may make representations or objections about the schemes to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment by 4 March. Any representations and objections received will be taken into account before a decision is taken on whether to approve the schemes.

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The agency has also submitted a scheme for its Welsh region to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales.

Copies of the schemes have been placed in the Library of the House. The schemes include descriptions of bodies or persons with an interest in the agency's activities. Once schemes are approved, individual appointments are made by the agency itself after consultation.

Northern Ireland: Inquiries and Reviews

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures they are taking to co-ordinate the Northern Ireland inquiries and reviews now being carried out by Lord Lloyd of Berwick (into emergency legislation), Dr. Morris Hayes (police complaints system) and Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC (permanent ombudsman for the holding and interrogation centres).

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Baroness Denton of Wakefield): The inquiry into the future need for counter-terrorism legislation in the UK being carried out by Lord Lloyd of Berwick, the review of the police complaints system being undertaken by Dr. Hayes and the annual report by Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC, the Independent Commissioner for the Holding Centres, are each being carried out in accordance with specific terms of reference provided by the Government. The recommendations will be considered by the Government within the framework of their co-ordinated approach to all aspects of policing in Northern Ireland, which in turn has the objective of achieving stability and prosperity for the people of the Province.

AIDS-related Expenditure

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much money they have spent on treatment and care of AIDS patients in each of the last five years; how much they have spent into research into the causes of and possible cures for AIDS; and whether they can state which activity out of:


    (a) drug/syringe abuse


    (b) unprotected heterosexual sex, and


    (c) homosexual activities is the most significant route for transmission of the disease.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The following amounts have been made available to the National Health Service for the treatment and care of AIDS services for patients since 1991-92:--

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Year£ million
1991-9275.5
1992-93108.3
1993-94132.7
1994-95164.3
1995-96195.1

The amounts spent on HIV/AIDS research are as follows:-

Year£ million
1990-9118.4
1991-9220.4
1992-9320.0
1993-9421.8
1994-9522.6
1995-96not yet available

The expenditure on HIV/AIDS research takes account of the fact that there is relatively little contribution by charities and pharmaceutical companies.

Homosexual activity continues to be the most significant route for transmission of the disease.

AIDS Research: Use of Animals

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent government-sponsored research into the treatment and cure of AIDS involves the use of animals.

Baroness Cumberlege: Government sponsored research into the treatment of HIV and AIDS is directed at clinical trials in humans. The first United Kingdom HIV vaccine is currently the subject of a human trial in the UK. Results from research in animal models have been an essential prerequisite to this trial. Research in animals is carried out according to strict legal and ethical standards.

DSS Efficiency Savings and Staff Numbers

Lord Addington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What increase in the social security benefit bill they are expecting as a result of redundancies in the Department of Social Security and whether this cost has been allowed for in estimates of efficiency savings to be made by changes in the administration of the department.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The Department of Social Security has no plans, at present, to make any staff redundant as a consequence of efficiency savings to be made by changes in the administration of the department.

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Electronic Monitoring

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have decided to extend the length of the electronic monitoring trials.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): Yes. As I informed my noble friend in my Answer of 7 November (col. WA 200), my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has been considering a request from the Magistrates' Association to extend the length of the electronic monitoring trials into the next financial year. We agree with the association that it would be helpful to give courts more time to become used to the curfew order, and for it to find its place among other community sentences.

The present trials are currently due to end in April this year and my right honourable friend is proposing to extend them until March 1997. We will also be consulting interested parties about increasing the number of courts in Greater Manchester and Berkshire which will have the sentence available to them.

Shipping Industry: Training Programmes

Lord Clinton-Davis asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they have taken or are contemplating to establish or assist training programmes for the shipping industry to implement the new requirements imposed by the revised international convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): I have asked the Chief Executive of the Marine Safety Agency, Mr. Robin Bradley, to write to the noble Lord.

Letter to Lord Clinton-Davis from the Chief Executive of the Marine Safety Agency, Mr. R. M. Bradley, dated 20 February 1996.

The Secretary of State for Transport has asked me to reply to your Question about training programmes for the shipping industry to implement the new requirements imposed by the 1995 revision of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention).

When the 1995 revision of the STCW Convention is implemented, it is anticipated that UK seafarers will continue serving within their current roles, as the standards attained by the vast majority of UK seafarers satisfy the 1995 revision. What is required is a change in the UK certification structure to bring it into line with the STCW model. We propose to take this opportunity to streamline the UK system to meet the needs of modern industry and international standards. Our proposals have been circulated for consultation.

Concurrent with the changes to the certification structure due to the 1995 revision of STCW, changes

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are being made to the way seafarers will gain their qualifications. In line with modern thinking and policy upon competency evaluation and in order to produce a more meaningful and accurate assessment of seafarers' ability to perform their professional duties, the Vocational Qualification (VQ) route to certification

is being introduced. The VQ route to certification

is consistent with the requirements of the 1995 revision.

Government assistance towards the training of seafarers is provided by the grant of approximately

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£5 million a year to the two schemes, GAFT and DOCS. GAFT (Government Assistance For Training) assists seafarers towards their first certificate of competency, and DOCS (Development of Certificated Seafarers) encourages shipping companies to employ and train British junior officers working towards a second certificate of competency on the VQ route. The possibility of adjusting these arrangements in order to help meet the requirements of the 1995 revision of STCW will be considered as part of the Government's policy of getting best value for money from assistance to the UK shipping industry.



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