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Migratory Song Birds

Mr. Chris Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what account his Department takes of measures taken by applicant countries to the EU to deter the killing of migratory song birds in determining its policy towards their application. [15793]

Mr. Clappison: Wild birds in the European Union are protected by the provisions of the EC wild birds directive, 79/409/EEC. My Department would expect any new countries who acceded to the EU to abide by the provisions set out in that directive.

Mr. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make representations to the Government of Cyprus regarding the killing of migratory song birds by hunters; and if he will make a statement. [15795]

Mr. Clappison: Bird protection measures in Cyprus are the responsibility of the Cypriot Government. The British Government are limited in what they can ask of other countries regarding their own legislation.

Water and Sewerage Companies

Mrs. Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what were the indicative values of the water, and water and sewerage companies used to calculate rates of return for the period 1989 to 1994. [16233]

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Mr. Clappison: The indicative values of individual companies formed part of the financial projections which underlay the initial setting of price limits for each company. These financial projections are commercially confidential.

Tranquil Areas

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will map comprehensively the tranquil areas of England as defined by the Council for the Protection of Rural England; and what steps he is taking the preserve the tranquillity of those areas. [16227]

Mr. Clappison: We have no plans to map the tranquil areas of England. Ministers took great interest in the Council for the Protection of Rural England's tranquil area maps project and fully recognise the importance of areas of the countryside where people can go for peace and tranquillity. The Government's White Paper on rural England sets out our framework for maintaining a proper balance between development and protection across the whole of the countryside. The forthcoming revision of planning policy guidance note 7 will emphasise that a central tenet of sustainable development is the integration of development with protection of the environment.

Pollution (North Sea)

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the progress made by the United Kingdom in meeting the targets set to reduce pollution in the North sea at the second North sea conference held in London in 1987.[16101]

Mr. Clappison: The second North sea conference in 1987 agreed to take measures to reduce urgently and drastically the total quantity of substances that are persistent, toxic and liable to bioaccumulate reaching the aquatic environment of the North sea via rivers and estuaries, with the aim of achieving a substantial reduction--of the order of 50 per cent.--in total inputs from these sources between 1985 and 1995.

As shown in the progress report to the fourth North sea conference, placed in the Library, the UK has achieved reductions of this order for "red list" substances, with the exception of zinc, where diffuse sources such as corrugated iron, cosmetics and car tyres have proved to be more significant than thought in 1987.

Student Accommodation

Mr. David Nicholson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many students in further and higher education he estimates were accommodated in the private rented sector in (a) 1987, (b) 1992 and (c) the last year for which figures are available; and what assessment he has made of the growth in student accommodation since 1987. [16166]

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Mr. Clappison: The number of students in the private rented sector estimated from the labour force survey are:

Thousand
Full-time coursePart-time course
198726080
1992360130
1996470180

Notes:

Students on full-time courses include those on sandwich courses and training in nursing.

Like all estimates based on sample surveys, these figures are subject to sampling variability.

There are no reliable figures on student accommodation yet provided by educational institutions.


Sheffield Development Corporation

Sir Irvine Patnick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the work of the Sheffield development corporation since its inception; and which organisation has been designated to continue its work. [16292]

Mr. Curry: As my hon. Friend will recall, recognition was given to the work of the Sheffield development corporation during the recent parliamentary debates on the winding up of the corporation--Official Report, Second Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation, 28 January 1997 and Official Report, House of Lords 6 February 1997 columns 1801-04. I fully endorse the views expressed by the Under-Secretary of State. It is clear that there is agreement on all sides that Sheffield development corporation has fulfilled its mission to bring economic regeneration to the lower Don valley and has made a most significant contribution to changing the image of Sheffield.

No single organisation has been designated to continue regeneration in Sheffield. The city council and British Waterways will bring to a conclusion a number of projects under way at the end of the corporation's lifetime. It is for the city council and other local partners to reach a conclusion on whether they wish to establish a single- purpose organisation to take regeneration forward. We have shown our commitment to partnership working in Sheffield by committing £124 million to projects in the city over the next seven years under the single regeneration budget challenge fund, capital challenge and estates renewal challenge fund.

Environmental Performance Checklist

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on progress with the Environment Agency's production of a DIY environmental performance checklist for premises managers on the Government estate. [16455]

Mr. Clappison: The checklist has been produced, and copies have been sent to green co-ordinators in Government Departments and to premises managers on the Government estate.

English House Condition Survey

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to publish (a) the main

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report of the 1996 English house condition survey and (b) the energy report of the 1996 English house condition survey. [16581]

Mr. Clappison: We expect to produce the main report of the 1996 EHCS before the end of this year and the energy report next year.

Scottish Grand Committee

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the cost to public funds of the attendance of (a) Ministers and (b) officials of his Department at meetings of the Scottish Grand Committee in Scotland since December 1994; and if he will list the meetings of the Committee which (a) and (b) have attended indicating the cost of attendance and the names of those who attended. [16576]

Sir Paul Beresford: No Ministers or officials from the Department of the Environment have attended a meeting of the Scottish Grand Committee.

North of England Assembly

Ms Quin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he last met the North of England Assembly to discuss regional government. [15287]

Sir Paul Beresford: My right hon. Friend has not met the North of England Assembly.

Social Housing

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many people are currently on waiting lists for social housing in (a) London, (b) England and (c) Coventry. [16552]

Mr. Clappison: Local authorities in England report the number of households on their housing waiting lists at 1 April each year in their annual housing investment programme returns. The latest available figures relate to the position on 1 April 1996, and are given in the 1996 "HIP 1 All Items Print", a copy of which is in the Library.

Corresponding data are not collected centrally for housing associations, some of which do not operate waiting lists.

Consultants

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what monitoring takes place by his Department of the use of external consultants by non-departmental public bodies. [16759]

Sir Paul Beresford: This is a matter for the management of the bodies concerned.

Homelessness

Mr. Patrick Thompson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has for grants to homelessness voluntary organisations under section 180 of the Housing Act 1996. [17264]

Mr. Clappison: The successful grant programme established under section 73 of the Housing Act 1985 will be continued under section 180 of the 1996 Act. The grant

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programme has been particularly successful in helping single, homeless people to find and keep accommodation, and it continues to represent good value for money.

For 1997-98, the Government have made available £7.9 million to assist voluntary sector organisations to meet the running costs of practical projects which help single people in housing need. In addition to continuing to fund all eligible existing projects, we shall be inviting bids from voluntary organisations to set up new projects in 1997-98.


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