Previous Section Home Page

Rules and Regulations

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many rules and regulations he repealed in the first three months of 1995; how many new rules and regulations were introduced in that period by way of statutory instruments, motions or orders.      [19365]

Sir John Wheeler [holding answer 18 April 1995]: Forty-six rules and regulations were repealed by my right hon. and learned Friend in the first three months of 1995.

One hundred and thirty-eight new rules and regulations were introduced during the same period including:

14 which repealed earlier instruments or substituted a more favourable regime for business


Column 294

24 which implemented EU obligations

Five which facilitated privatisations and competition

40 which updated fees and charges or related to local legislation

49 which, while not fitting any of the above categories, had no adverse impact on business.

Mahogany

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many meters of mahogany or products containing it his Department has bought in the last five years; and if he will list the purposes and the costs.      [19847]

Mr. Moss [holding answer 19 April 1995]: The Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland has bought 43.98 cu m of mahogany in the last five years, at a cost of £11,500, for use in the manufacture and repair of furniture. In line with existing policy, the use of mahogany is being reduced and it is now primarily purchased for repairs.

SCOTLAND

Overtime

Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list for each agency and the central Department for which he is responsible (a) the total hours of overtime worked for which payment has been made, (b) the total amount paid in overtime and (c) the total time in days and its monetary equivalent lost through sickness in each of the last three years.

Mr. Lang: Information on the total number of hours overtime worked and the total amount paid in overtime is as follows:


                                                   Scottish Record     General Register             

                                                   Office              Office                       

           The Scottish        Scottish Prison     for Scotland        for Scotland                 

           Office              Service                                                              

          |£        |hrs      |£        |hrs      |£        |hrs      |£        |hrs                

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

1994-95   |3,227,331|504,735  |288,728  |42,379   |36,480   |6,021    |32,736   |4,264              

1993-94   |3,172,452|513,598  |295,683  |43,608   |25,459   |4,413    |34,877   |4,769              

1992-93   |3,296,869|547,691  |272,469  |41,661   |67,896   |11,931   |43,951   |6,021              

The Scottish Office figures include all its agencies except the Scottish Prison Service. Individual information on these agencies cannot be provided without disproportionate costs in staff time. The total number of days lost through sickness in 1992 and 1993, figures for 1994 are not yet available, is as follows:


                                 |Scottish  |General              

           |The       |Scottish  |Record    |Register             

           |Scottish  |Prison    |Office for|Office for           

           |Office    |Service   |Scotland  |Scotland             

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

1993       |64,890    |68,850    |1,303     |2,976                

1992       |54,734    |55,446    |913       |3,544                

Again, the Scottish Office figures include all its agencies, except the Scottish Prison Service. Individual information on these agencies cannot be provided without disproportionate costs in staff time. Because of the variables involved in this calculation, it is not possible to give the monetary equivalent of days lost to sickness.


Column 294

Allowances

Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the total amount paid by his central Department and each agency for which he is responsible in subsistence allowances for travel (a) within the United Kingdom and (b) outside the United Kingdom, in each of the last three years.      [19652]

Mr. Lang: Information is not held separately for domestic and overseas travel or for individual agencies in the Scottish Office. The total subsistence allowance paid by the Scottish Office and its agencies in each of the last three years was as follows:


Year      |£                  

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

1992-93   |2,184,177          

1993-94   |3,675,067          

1994-95   |2,895,091          

This information excludes the costs and expenses appropriate to the Scottish Office Prison Service, which is unable to provide the information in respect of prison officer grades without disproportionate costs in staff time.

Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list for each agency and the central Department for which he is responsible (a) the total amount of removal costs and associated expenses reimbursed to officials who were required to relocate as part of their employment, (b) the amount of each of the highest three claims that were concluded and settled and (c) the average amount of each claim in each of the last three years.      [19562]

Mr. Lang: Information on individual agencies and (b) and (c) cannot be provided without disproportionate costs in staff time. The total amount of removal costs and associated expenses reimbursed to officials in the Scottish Office and its

agencies--excluding prison officer grades in the Scottish Prison Service, where it could not be provided without disproportionate costs in staff time --who were required to relocate as part of their employment in each of the last three years was as follows: 1992 93: £627,124

1993 94: £610,558

1994 95: £473,047

Glaucoma

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the estimated number of people aged over 17 years with glaucoma in Scotland.      [19730]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Information on the prevalence of glaucoma is not held centrally.

TREASURY

Membership of the European Union

Mr. Gill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what quantified evidence he has on whether the United Kingdom would prosper outside the European Union.      [19542]

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: Membership of the EU involves a balance of benefits and obligations, which cannot be quantified precisely. The benefits to the UK include increased bargaining power in world trade negotiations and the benefits from influencing the outcome of decisions taken at a Community level on a wide range of matters affecting our prosperity, including the single market and state aids.

Life Insurance

Mr. Matthew Banks: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about the taxation of the life insurance business of friendly societies.      [20814]

Sir George Young: Regulations will be laid before the House shortly which will, among other things, clarify the treatment of expenses in arriving at the taxable profits of a friendly society writing life insurance business.

Tax is charged on the investment income and gains referrable to such business, less the management expenses incurred by the society in the course of that business; but friendly societies enjoy an exemption from tax on the investment return from smaller policies.


Column 296

This distinction between taxable and tax- exempt business was introduced in 1966. Before then, societies had been able to offer only small-scale tax exempt policies. At that time, it seemed self-evident, both to the Inland Revenue and to the friendly society movement represented by the Friendly Societies Liaison Committee, that to calculate the profits of the taxable business one should take the investment return and expenses related specifically to that new category of business.

This approach was incorporated into guidance issued to societies by the liaison committee and was universally followed in practice for more than 25 years, but recently it has been challenged. It is argued that there is no bar in law to a society setting against the income of its taxable life insurance business expenses incurred not only in that strand of its business but in the pursuit of all of its other activities.

Such an interpretation is clearly contrary to the intention of the 1966 legislation. It would overturn a basis of taxation that has applied across the board for a quarter of a century with universal acceptance and would produce unfair results as between one society and another.

Litigation on this point has recently been initiated and it may be some long time before we have a final judgment. It is not satisfactory to leave so fundamental a point uncertain and the regulations to be laid will put the long accepted basis of taxation beyond question. The regulations will also cover other deductions such as capital allowances on assets used only partly for the purposes of taxable life insurance business.

Because expenses in excess of income and gains can be carried forward without limit of time, the regulations will have to have retrospective effect, but the retrospection will not in practice result in the recalculation of any figures which have already been agreed. Where a society has embarked on litigation, and a hearing by the tax commissioners has begun before today, the amount of the losses available to carry forward will be determined by the courts and not by the regulations.

Mahogany

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many metres of mahogany or products containing it his Department has bought in the last five years; and if he will list the purposes and the costs.      [19837]

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory [holding answer 19 April 1995]: I regret that information prior to the financial year 1992 93 is not available.

In the year 1992 93, the Treasury purchased some small tables with a mahogany veneer to a total value of less than £1,400. I am not aware of any such goods being purchased since. On 21 April 1993, the Treasury announced its environmental policy. This states that "wherever possible the department will avoid the purchase of goods which are manufactured or obtained in such a manner that the resource used to produce those goods is put under threat."

HOME DEPARTMENT

Specialist Support Unit

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what reductions are being made in the Home


Column 297

Office specialist support unit for training police officers in race and community relations matters; and if he will make a statement.      [19512]

Mr. Maclean: The specialist support unit is contracted out to an independent training consultancy, Equalities Associates. I understand that the company is considering a reduction of two training staff in the forthcoming contract year, commencing in July 1995.

Prison Escapes

Mr. Elletson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the performance of the Prison Service on escapes in 1994 95, including privately managed court escort services and prisons.      [20812]

Mr. Michael Forsyth: In 1994 95, the total number of escapes from prison and escorts outside prison, as a proportion of the average prison population, was 32 per cent. lower than 1993 94 and 49 per cent. lower than 1992 93, the last year before the Prison Service became an agency. The total of 202 escapes from prison and escorts in 1994 95 includes 15 from the privately managed court escort and custody service--compared with 26 in 1993 94 and one from the four contracted out establishments.

The rate of escapes continued to decline during1994 95, and in the second half of the year--October 1994 to March 1995--the rate of escapes was 67 per cent. lower than the same period in 1992 93. In the period October 1994 to March 1995, there were only three escapes from the privately managed court escort and custody service--less than 10 per cent. of the number under the previous arrangements provided by the police and the Prison Service. In this period, there were no escapes from contracted-out prisons.

Republican Prisoners

Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received about the removal of basic privileges from 38 republican prisoners in prison in Britain; what representations he has received about such prisoners and visitors being stopped from talking in Irish; what instructions he or his officials have issued concerning these matters since 1 September 1994; and if he will make a statement.      [17667]

Mr. Michael Forsyth [holding answer 3 April 1995]:

Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Max Madden, dated 21 April 1995:

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question asking what representations have been received about the removal of basic privileges from 38 republican prisoners; what representations have been received about such prisoners and visitors being stopped from talking in Irish; what instructions have been issued concerning these matters since September 1994.

Representations have been received from a number of organisations and individuals about the treatment of some Irish republican prisoners. Some of these representations have been about enabling a particular prisoner in Full Sutton prison to speak Irish during visits by his family. This he is permitted to do.

Governors of the prisons concerned are required to treat prisoners in accordance with Prison Rules, Standing Orders and any relevant instructions. No instructions have been issued to the Governors of the prisons concerned about the treatment of Irish republican prisoners. The regime under which the five Irish prisoners who


Column 298

escaped from the Special Secure Unit at Whitemoor in September 1994 are held in Belmarsh was approved by Prison Service headquarters.

TRANSPORT

Railways (Surplus Land)

Mr. Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if the Radyr bridge depot and yard was listed in the schedule of previously operational land transferred as surplus to railway requirements to Railtrack Property to be disposed of.      [20307]

Mr. Watts: Radyr bridge depot and yard is owned by Railtrack PLC and is managed by Railtrack Property. The majority of the site is now surplus to operational requirements and Railtrack has recently decided to dispose of it, subject to access over the adjoining railway lines.

Motorway Lane Discipline

Mr. Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to issue further guidance to motorists on motorway lane discipline; and if he will make a statement.      [19943]

Mr. Norris: Advice on good lane discipline is already contained in the "Highway Code" and the Driving Standards Agency's "Driving" manual. We take every opportunity to emphasise the need for good lane discipline. A controlled motorway experiment will start on the M25 next month with the use of variable speed limits and camera enforcement. We believe that this will have beneficial effect on lane discipline as the traffic flow will be smoothed with well-disciplined speeds and a consequent reduction in the number of lane changes. We shall be monitoring the effectiveness of the new measures.

Allowances

Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the total amount paid by his central Department and each agency for which he is responsible in subsistence allowances for travel (a) within the United Kingdom and (b) outside the United Kingdom in each of the last three years.      [19565]

Mr. Norris: The information is not available in the form requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

M25

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he hopes to be able to hold local exhibitions and meetings to explain the details of his new proposals for the M25 between junctions 12 and 16.      [19241]

Mr. Watts: This is an operational matter for the Highways Agency. I have asked the chief executive to write to my hon. Friend. Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Mr. David Wilshire, dated 21 April 1995:

The Minister of State for Railways and Roads has asked me to write to you in response to your Parliamentary Question about the M25 widening between Junctions 12 and 16.

Following the Secretary of State's announcement on April 3, the Highways Agency have embarked on design work and an


Column 299

environmental assessment of the widening proposals. We shall do this as quickly as possible, but it will necessarily take some time. We hope to publish details of the scheme between Junctions 12 and 15 early next year, and will hold a series of local public exhibitions to provide an opportunity for people to see the proposals and discuss them with Agency staff.

A copy of the Non-Technical Summary of the Environmental Statement will be sent to all those who objected to or commented on the original link road proposals, together with details of the exhibitions.

Preparation of the scheme between Junctions 15 and 16 will take longer and the detailed proposals will follow at a later date.

BR Civil Engineering Design Offices

Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people are employed at each of the British Rail civil engineering design offices in (a) Birmingham, (b) Croydon, (c) Glasgow, (d) Swindon and (e) York; how many bids in respect of each of these offices have been received by the BR vendor unit from organisations which wish to purchase them; and when he expects a decision on the bids will be made.      [19751]

Mr. Watts: The number of staff currently employed at each of the civil engineering design offices is as follows:


              |Number       

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

a) Birmingham |119          

b) Croydon    |180          

c) Glasgow    |63           

d) Swindon    |140          

e) York       |160          

The number of bids received for the design offices is commercially confidential.

A decision on the bids will be made when negotiations are completed.

Rules and Regulations

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of for Transport how many rules and regulations he repealed in the first three months of 1995; and how many new rules and regulations were introduced in that period by way of statutory instruments, motions or orders.      [19370]

Mr. Watts: Two rules and regulations were repealed in the first three months of 1995. In the same period, 17 rules and regulations were introduced--not including commencement orders, Orders in Council and instruments not subject to parliamentary procedure--of which: two revoked earlier instruments or substituted a more favourable regime for business;

five implemented EU and other international obligations including measures to facilitate intermember state trade;

none facilitated privatisation and competition;

eight updated fees and charges or related to local legislation; the remaining two are minor miscellaneous provisions which amend existing legislation and have no adverse impact on business.

Only two introduced new regulatory requirements which increased cost to business: the Merchant Shipping (Hours of Work) Regulations 1995 and the Road Vehicle (Construction & Use) (Amendment) Regulations 1995. Compliance cost assessments for both regulations have been placed in the House Library.

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what requirements there are for officials in his


Column 300

Department to introduce a compliance cost assessment for all rules and regulations coming before him and his Ministers; and how many compliance cost assessments have been issued in his Department in the first three months of this year.      [19355]

Mr. Watts [holding answer 18 April 1995]: In accordance with the guidance provided in the DTI publication "Checking the Cost to Business", my Department has agreed to produce compliance cost assessments for all rules and regulations which may have an impact on business. We have issued five CCAs in the first three months of this year, copies of which are in the Library.

The reply given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on 19 April, Official Report, columns 189 90, sets out the circumstances in which CCAs are required.

WALES

Local Authorities

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales which local authorities in Wales have been identified by the Audit Commission as having a prima facie case against them of either corruption or maladministration; and if he will make a statement.      [18877]

Mr. Gwilym Jones: I will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

Council Tax

Mr. Gareth Wardell: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what powers he has for the overruling of a valuation tribunal in setting a council tax band for a domestic property.      [18969]

Mr. Gwilym Jones: None.

Dental Services

Mr. Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list those health authorities or family health services authority, or health commissions in Wales where the level of community dental provision is being reduced and the level of salaried dental provision is being increased in 1995 96.      [20311]

Mr. Redwood: It is a matter for each health authority to determine, in the light of local circumstances, the appropriate level of community dental service provision for its area and information about this is not held centrally.

Family health services authorities can apply for permission to employ salaried dentists where and when they deem it necessary in accordance with local needs and circumstances. There are presently three salaried dentists in post in Wales. In addition, Dyfed family health services authority has recently been given permission to employ a second salaried dentist; Gwent family health services authority has approval in principle to appoint one; Gwynedd family health services authority has three vacant posts, and an application from Clwyd family health services authority is currently under consideration.

On 5 April, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health announced the Government's plans for the reform of NHS


Column 301

dentistry following the consultation on the Green Paper "Improving NHS Dentistry". That announcement restated the Government's commitment to strengthen the safety net role of the community dental service to meet the needs of patients in areas of the country where there is difficulty obtaining NHS treatment under the general dental service.

I have made available an extra £2.5 million to improve dental services in the community. Proposals from health authorities are currently under consideration by the Welsh Office.

Disabled Drivers Assessment Centre

Mr. Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what consultations he has had with the Wales disabled drivers assessment centre concerning the provision of a new integrated disabled drivers testing centre and test track; and if he will make a statement.      [20310]

Mr. Redwood: Welsh Office officials have discussed with the Wales disabled drivers assessment centre--in connection with Welsh Office grant support--its wish to relocate. These discussions are continuing.

Cancer Care Services

Mr. Sweeney: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has to improve the provision of cancer care services.      [20811]

Mr. Redwood: I have received the final report from the chief medical officers of England and Wales expert advisory groups on cancer "A Policy Framework for Commissioning Cancer Services", which sets out a strategic framework for cancer services.

I have accepted the recommendations in that report and a copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

It is essential that all patients with cancer have access to high-quality, safe and effective care, and that health authorities in Wales should work together, and across their boundaries, to provide such care and support to patients, their carers and professionals involved in delivering that care.

I am delighted that Professor Ian Cameron, provost of the University of Wales, college of medicine has agreed to lead an expert group to co- ordinate and support local action to implement the expert advisory group on cancer recommendations in Wales. I expect them to consult those affected and take local opinion into account.

DEFENCE

Chemical Weapons

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the burial sites on land for chemical weapon munitions recovered during the First World War which are known to his Department; and what remedial action is taking place as planned to decontaminate these sites.      [19333]

Mr. Soames: Bramley training area--formerly Bramley central ammunition depot--is the only MOD site where first world war chemical warfare munitions are known to have been buried. Following the discovery in 1987 of CW munitions buried there, munition recovery and clearance work was carried out. Work on further


Column 302

searches is currently being undertaken at other locations within the site. Any CW munitions located will be removed, rendered safe and transported to the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, Porton Down for destruction.

Nuclear Warheads

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his oral answer of 28 March, Official Report, columns 817 18, whether the figures he cites on future deployment of United Kingdom nuclear warheads include all existing categories of British land, sea and air- launched nuclear weapons presently deployed by the Untied Kingdom or allocated to NATO.      [19335]


Next Section

  Home Page