Wednesday 21 June 2000
Tavish Scott (Shetland) (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive when the last consultations with the agricultural industry over the proposed changes to Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowances took place.
Ross Finnie: The Scottish Executive discussed its proposals for the scheme that will succeed Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowances with a wide range of parties with an interest in agriculture in the run-up to the submission of the Rural Development Plan. Further discussions will be held in light of the European Commission’s detailed comments and the Executive’s response to it.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive how it will ensure that persons who live in the Highlands and Islands, or who have local knowledge of the issues and problems relating to ferry transport in the Highlands and Islands, are considered for the vacant positions on the Board of Caledonian MacBrayne.
Sarah Boyack: The current vacancies for the posts of Non-Executive Director on the Board of Caledonian MacBrayne were openly advertised in accordance with the Guidance on Appointments to Public Bodies. The criteria for the posts include one, categorised as highly desirable, relating to an interest in, or local knowledge of, Highlands and Islands issues. Candidates for the current vacancies were assessed against this and the other criteria for the post(s), and an announcement on the outcome of the recruitment process was made today.
Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive when an announcement will be made in relation to the non-executive appointments to the Board of Caledonian MacBrayne Limited.
Sarah Boyack: I am delighted to announce that I have appointed Professor Peter Timms and Mr John Alex MacPherson to the Board of Caledonian MacBrayne Limited as non-executive directors from 1 July. The company faces many challenges and I am confident that they will make a positive contribution to the future direction of the company. Both of the new appointees live in areas served by the CalMac network and their knowledge and experience will enable them to bring a fresh perspective to the board. In making these appointments I have increased the number of non-executive directors on the board from six to seven. I believe this is appropriate in the light of the challenges the company faces in relation to the need to change the arrangements for delivering ferry services to comply with EU law. I believe the board is well equipped to provide this strategic direction which will enable the company to cope with this period of change successfully.
In addition, two current board members – Mr Lex Gold and Mr Scott Grier – have been re-appointed for a further three years with effect from 1 April 2000.
Mr Murray Tosh (South of Scotland) (Con): To ask the Scottish Executive whether the sample size and distribution used in Dr Neil Campbell’s research for the Cancer Research Campaign were sufficient to validate his research findings; what action it proposes to take to identify the causes of, and determine remedies for, higher cancer mortality rates for residents in Scotland’s rural areas, and what targets it will set for the removal of urban-rural disparities in cancer mortality rates.
Susan Deacon: It is not appropriate for me to comment on the research methodology adopted by other organisations or specific individuals.
The Scottish Executive’s commitment to reduce deaths from cancer and the action required to meet this target are clearly set out in Towards a Healthier Scotland. Similarly, the Programme for Government sets out our social justice and healthcare agendas, which will contribute to the achievement of those objectives. The work of the Scottish Cancer Group is helping to inform and develop cancer services across Scotland to ensure equity of access to treatment and care nationwide.
Mr Duncan McNeil (Greenock and Inverclyde) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive, further to the answer to question S1W-4481 by Mr Sam Galbraith on 3 April 2000, which 16 local authorities have revised byelaws in place on child work permits; which 10 local authorities have submitted bylaws on child work permits for confirmation, and which six local authorities are engaged in local consultation.
Mr Sam Galbraith: As shown in the table below, 19 local authorities now have revised byelaws in place, nine have submitted byelaws for confirmation and four are engaged in local consultation.
UPDATE ON BYELAWS
* Returned to LA for modification.
** Draft accepted for confirmation – final version awaited.
Mr Duncan McNeil (Greenock and Inverclyde) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive, further to the answer to question S1W-4483 by Mr Sam Galbraith on 3 April 2000, when figures will be published on employees who have been prosecuted for employing children in industrial undertakings in the last 12 months.
Mr Sam Galbraith: Statistics on the outcome of court proceedings in 1999 are expected to be available by November 2000.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has received representations from local authorities to be allowed to reduce or eliminate discounts on second or holiday homes and retain the income generated as a result and, if so, from which local authorities and what measures does it intend to take as a result.
Mr Jack McConnell: Yes, representations have been received from the Highland Council. We have no plans to make changes to the local taxation system at present.
Ms Sandra White (Glasgow) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive which museums and galleries are in receipt of funding from central government.
Rhona Brankin: The Executive is responsible for providing financial support to the National Museum of Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland. Apart from exceptional short-term support from the Executive, the funding of other museums is the responsibility of those who own and operate them. However, local authority museums are funded from the Grant Aided Expenditure provided by the Executive.
Robert Brown (Glasgow) (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive when the major strategic review of the operation of Glasgow Dental Hospital will be complete.
Susan Deacon: I am advised by North Glasgow University Hospitals NHS Trust that its major strategic review of the operation of Glasgow Dental Hospital will be completed by the end of the summer, when the proposals flowing from the review will be the subject of a public consultation exercise.
Robert Brown (Glasgow) (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will take action to tackle any problems with the waiting list at Glasgow Dental Hospital pending the completion of the major strategic review of dental services.
Susan Deacon: Health boards and their partner Trusts are required to manage the services they provide in a way which best meets the needs of those who use the services.
It is for North Glasgow University NHS Trust, which has management responsibility for Glasgow Dental Hospital, to put in place measures to reduce waiting for dental services. This is a key aim of the major review the Trust is carrying out at present.
Mr Gil Paterson (Central Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will list any consultation, studies and reports it has commissioned to date which deal with the issues of domestic violence and rape including details of the dates when they were or are expected to be published and the estimated costs of each.
Jackie Baillie: The Executive published a report on The Development of the Scottish Partnership on Domestic Abuse and Recent Work in Scotland in February 2000. Research and publication costs totalled £17,000. The report is available from the Stationery Office Bookshop priced £5.
The Executive also intends to publish a new Action Plan on the Prevention of Violence Against Women in the autumn at an estimated cost of £10,000. It will be available free of cost.
The Scottish Partnership on Domestic Abuse consulted in February and March 2000 on a National Strategy to Address Domestic Abuse in Scotland. It will issue a revised strategy, together with Good Practice Guidance and Service Standards, in September or October. The cost is estimated at £5,000.
Mr Adam Ingram (South of Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will detail the assessment made by it and The Scottish Office of the capital allocation requirements for education in each local authority area in each year from 1996-97 to 1999-2000.
Peter Peacock: Since 1996-97, local authorities have received a single allocation for local authority non-housing capital expenditure, including education, distributed, since 1997-98, on the basis of a formula. The formula is based on five elements, including an education element but also takes account of construction costs in each local authority area and special transport needs. The total formula outcome produces a measure of relative need to spend between councils across the range of the non-housing capital programmes.
At the request of CoSLA, the formula issues as an unhypothecated allocation. It is for each local authority to determine its own spending priorities as they are best placed to assess local needs and circumstances. This includes the assessment of expenditure needs for education. We have, however, agreed with CoSLA that capital expenditure on education should be a priority for local authorities within the overall capital expenditure resources available to them.
Mr Adam Ingram (South of Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive, further to the answer to question S1O-1732 by Peter Peacock on 18 May 2000, whether it will provide a breakdown of local authority capital expenditure on education by authority and by nature, including acquisition of land, leases, existing buildings or works, new construction, and expenditure on vehicles, plant, machinery and equipment, and whether it will supply such information for each year from 1996-97 to the present.
Peter Peacock: The tables below give details of local authority gross capital expenditure on education, by authority, by category of expenditure for financial years 1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-2000. 1999-2000 data are provisional. The requested breakdown into acquisition of land, new construction etc. is not available for capital expenditure funded from current revenue. The information has been compiled from local authority capital payment returns.
Gross capital expenditure 1996-97
Source: As reported by authorities on the statistical return, Capital Payments and their Financing (CPR5) for financial year 1996-97.
1. Gross capital payments are payments both funded and not funded from revenue.
Gross capital expenditure 1997-98
Source: As reported by authorities on the statistical return, Capital Payments and their Financing (CPR5) for financial year 1997-98.
1. Gross capital payments are payments both funded and not funded from revenue.
Gross capital expenditure 1998-99
Source: As reported by authorities on the statistical return, Capital Payments and their Financing (CPR5) for financial year 1998-99.
1. Gross capital payments are payments both funded and not funded from revenue.
Gross capital expenditure 1999-20001
Source: As reported by authorities on the statistical return, Capital Payments and their
Financing (CPR FIN3d Forecast) for financial year 1999-00.
1. Data for 1999-2000 are provisional.
2. Gross capital payments are payments both funded and not funded from revenue.
Irene McGugan (North-East Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive when the additional resources for education announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in March will be forwarded to local authorities.
Peter Peacock: Following discussion with CoSLA, my department wrote on 17 May to all authorities advising them of how these resources which have been earmarked for schools will be allocated. A copy of the letter has been placed in SPICe. Announcements on the balance of resources will follow once decisions have been made on their allocations.
Irene McGugan (North-East Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether the additional resources for education announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in March will be allocated in their entirety to schools or whether some of this funding will be retained by local authorities.
Peter Peacock: Following discussion with CoSLA, my departments wrote on 17 May to all authorities advising them of how the additional resources which have been earmarked for schools will be allocated. It is a condition of payment of this grant to authorities that the resources involved will be distributed to schools and will be additional to existing or planned school budgets for the financial year 2000-01.
Mr Adam Ingram (South of Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what was the total allocation of money made available to each local authority by it and the Scottish Office in each of the past three years for the purpose of introducing computer and IT equipment in schools and whether this money was for the purposes of capital or revenue expenditure.
Peter Peacock: The only year in which specific allocations for computers and IT equipment were made was 1999-2000, and local authority shares are shown in the table below. In July 1997, additional capital resources of £115.7 million were made available to authorities over five years under the New Deal for Schools to tackle the backlog of repairs to school buildings and to improve ICT facilities. There was no specific allocation within this for ICT and the decisions on the balance of expenditure between building repairs and on ICT facilities are matters for each authority. In addition, it is open to authorities to fund the acquisition of ICT equipment from the general resources available to them.
* From the Excellence Fund and Capital Modernisation Fund.
Part of this money was originally allocated as capital grant, but this was changed to revenue in response to representations from a number of local authorities.
Alex Neil (Central Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive how many people are employed on (a) a full-time, (b) a part-time and (c) a seasonal basis by (i) Scottish Enterprise; (ii) Highlands and Islands Enterprise; (iii) each local enterprise company in the Scottish Enterprise area and (iv) each local enterprise company in the Highlands and Islands Enterprise area.
Henry McLeish: The detailed information requested is not held centrally. I have asked the respective chairmen of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to reply to the member. Copies of their replies will be placed in SPICe.
Tavish Scott (Shetland) (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will list the annual income raised by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency from charges paid by each of (i) United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, (ii) British Nuclear Fuels Ltd, (iii) British Energy and (iv) the operators of any other plants discharging significant quantities of radioactive matter into the environment.
Sarah Boyack: The annual income raised by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency from charges paid for the period 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2000 was:
(i) £186,000 from United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
(ii) £47,000 from British Nuclear Fuels Ltd
(iii) £48, 000 from British Energy
(iv) £29,000 from other operators of plants discharging significant quantities of radioactive matter into the environment.
Maureen Macmillan (Highlands and Islands) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive what progress has been made in implementing the OSPAR Strategy with regard to radioactive substances.
Sarah Boyack: The UK Government has today launched a public consultation on the "UK Discharge Strategy for Radioactive Discharges, 2001-20". That strategy aims to implement in the UK the commitments of the OSPAR strategy with regard to radioactive substances. I have arranged for copies of the consultation document to be placed in the Scottish Parliament Information Centre. I have also written to Mr Andy Kerr, MSP, Convenor of the Transport and Environment Committee enclosing a copy of the consultation document.
Trish Godman (West Renfrewshire) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will detail its policy on the provision of passenger ferry services and their role in the development of an integrated passenger transport system and whether it has any plans to make a Ministerial Statement on this matter.
Sarah Boyack: On 27 April I made a statement on the Executive's policy in respect of ferry services and I announced the publication of the consultation document Delivering Lifeline Ferry Services - Meeting European Union requirements. This sets out proposals for changing the current arrangements to comply with European law and options for tendering the routes currently operated by Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd. I made clear that the Executive is committed to maintaining these vital services to Scotland's islands and remote mainland communities and highlighted that we have the opportunity to set the framework for a coherent network of high quality ferry services which is well integrated with other transport provision. Responses to the consultation document are invited by 30 June.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what its timetable is for a decision on the Freight Facility Grant Application for the Stirling/Alloa/Dunfermline line and what is the maximum and likely sum to be made available.
Sarah Boyack: The Scottish Executive received Railtrack’s application on 8 May and this is in the process of being assessed. The application is subject to a detailed economic analysis and a final decision about any grant award will only be reached once the assessment process – which can vary in terms of the length of the time taken between different applications – has been completed.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what powers it has to extend fuel duty rebate to commercial vehicles; whether it will detail the basis of these powers or restrictions, and whether it has any plans to extend the fuel duty rebate schemes to encompass an essential user rebate scheme for road haulage vehicles.
Sarah Boyack: The Bus Fuel Duty Rebate scheme is operated under section 92 of the Finance Act 1965. Legislative competence and financial responsibility for this scheme was devolved to the Scottish Parliament on 1 July 1999. The Scottish Executive’s Transport (Scotland) Bill is seeking powers to make regulations as to which class of buses the scheme may apply. We have no plans to extend the scheme beyond public transport service vehicles.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what representations it has made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer regarding the classes of vehicles which are entitled to rebated fuel in Scotland.
Sarah Boyack: The Executive keeps in regular contact with Treasury on a range of reserved issues which affect Scottish interests.
Tommy Sheridan (Glasgow) (SSP): To ask the Scottish Executive what steps it is taking to reduce the number of patients who experience a delay in receiving the appropriate treatment due to their illness being misdiagnosed, medical notes being lost or appointments being cancelled by hospitals.
Susan Deacon: Responsibility for dealing with treatment delays caused by misdiagnosis, lost medical notes, cancelled appointments or any other reason rests at the local level. These are ultimately clinical governance issues and we would expect matters like serious delays caused by misdiagnosis or, in certain circumstances, cancellation of appointments, to be raised with the local Clinical Governance Committee.
Since April 1999, clinical governance has made quality of care an integral part of the NHS governance framework. Accountability for the quality of care provided by a Trust rests with the Chief Executive.
Mr Kenneth Gibson (Glasgow) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to increase support to community pharmacists providing services to drug misusers, including security measures such as installation of panic buttons, CCTV and prominent alarm boxes.
Susan Deacon: NHS community pharmacy services to drug misusers – the dispensing of methadone and needle exchange – are subject to local contracting between community pharmacy contractors and their Primary Care Trust/Island Health Board. Issues of safety and security are primarily matters for the contractors concerned.
Karen Gillon (Clydesdale) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive what its plans are for providing housing support for vulnerable people and how it intends to take forward Supporting People.
Jackie Baillie: The Government published a consultation paper Supporting People in December 1998 proposing a new funding and policy framework for housing support services for vulnerable people. This was endorsed by the new Scottish Executive in October 1999. Under the new arrangements local authorities will become responsible for administering and funding housing support through a single funding stream. Supporting People will ensure greater transparency in funding, that provision of housing support is not tied to types of accommodation but to the needs of clients and will facilitate access to financial assistance for housing support services. It will raise the priority of support services and encourage councils to take a more strategic approach to provision.
These proposals were welcomed and I am pleased to announce today what the Scottish Executive will do to take them forward. Today we have published Supporting People – Towards 2003, which sets out a plan of clear goals that must be achieved in order to prepare for the implementation of Supporting People in April 2003. We have also published a consultation document on Managing the Change. Over the next 18 months we will also consult on:
Enabling powers for the changes will be proposed as part of a Housing Bill to be introduced in the autumn.
We intend to issue a Complete Package of guidance on implementing Supporting People by the end of 2001. This will include guidance on administrative structures, financial arrangements, continuation arrangements, needs assessment methodology and supply assessment. It will enable authorities and providers to plan ahead for a smooth transition to the new arrangements.
I want to reassure providers and users that there will be no sudden change to existing housing support services as a result of Supporting People when the new arrangements come into operation in 2003.
Allan Wilson (Cunninghame North) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive what progress has been made in fostering an evaluation culture and in implementing the guidelines on evaluating policy effectiveness, as defined by the UK Modernising Government Working Party, in relation to the knowledge economy.
Nicol Stephen: Policy is being developed from a firm evidence base, following extensive consultation with key players at a series of seminars across Scotland and working closely with experts from academia, industry and the public sector in the Knowledge Economy Task Force. Any initiatives developed from the work of the task force will be subject to evaluation.
Nick Johnston (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con): To ask the Scottish Executive, further to the answer to question S1W-2937 by Nicol Stephen on 2 December 1999, whether the meeting between Henry McLeish and the new head of Kvaerner Oil and Gas has taken place and, if so, what was the outcome, and whether the Minister intends to make a statement on the uncertainty facing the Methil yard.
Henry McLeish: My officials have been in close touch with Kvaerner, and I propose to meet the company in July when I hope to discuss the future of the Methil fabrication yard and Kvaerner’s proposals for its offshore businesses based in Aberdeen. The future of the Methil yard remains uncertain and my officials are working with the company and other agencies to identify options that will ensure that the life of the yard is extended.
Lewis Macdonald (Aberdeen Central) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive what discussion it has had with representatives of the private security industry in connection with the announcement of proposed new regulations.
Mr Jim Wallace: I had a helpful discussion with representatives of the British Security Industry Association on 5 April and Angus MacKay announced the Executive’s intention to regulate the private security industry when he addressed the BSIA’s Scottish Regional Annual Seminar on 23 May.
Mr Jamie McGrigor (Highlands and Islands) (Con): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will estimate the economic loss to the Isle of Harris, the Western Isles and to Scotland resulting from the delay in giving a decision over the outstanding Lingerbay Quarry application following the conclusion of the planning inquiry in 1995.
Sarah Boyack: The Scottish Executive is not aware of any evidence of economic loss which could be said to result from the fact that there is, as yet, no decision on this application.
Mr Jamie McGrigor (Highlands and Islands) (Con): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will list the relevant departments and the name of each individual currently giving full and proper consideration to the report of the public local inquiry into the outstanding planning application for the Lingerbay Quarry, Harris, giving a breakdown of the annual costs involved.
Sarah Boyack: It would not be appropriate to provide the names, or departments, of individual members of the Scottish Executive currently involved in considering the report of the Lingerbay Quarry public local inquiry. None of the officials considering the report are, or have been, doing so as their sole function. They are involved in other duties. It is not, therefore, possible to calculate the annual costs attributable to the work on this particular application.
Mr Keith Harding (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con): To ask the Scottish Executive whether (a) any Scottish local authorities have moved, or propose to move, to an "executive and scrutiny" model to replace the committee system in the light of The Report of the Commission on Local Government and The Scottish Parliament; (b) any Scottish Council has sought advice from the Scottish Executive on the way in which education functions should be discharged under the "executive and scrutiny" model given the requirements of section 124 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (as amended) as to the appointment and full involvement of three persons representing churches and other religions in these decisions, and (c) it has given any advice on the way in which education functions should be discharged under the "executive and scrutiny" model and what that advice was.
Mr Frank McAveety: One Scottish local authority has already moved to an executive model and a number of others are developing plans for new policy development and decision-making structures.
It is for individual local authorities to decide how best to discharge their education function within any new structures. One authority has sought advice from the Executive on the requirements of section 124 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 in relation to new structures and was advised that it was necessary to ensure that any new structure complies with the terms of existing legislation.
Karen Gillon (Clydesdale) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has come to a view on the remaining substantive issues aired in the public consultation held on the McIntosh Report into local government and the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Frank McAveety: I am pleased to announce our position on the following issues arising from our consultation on the McIntosh Report:
On the issue of whether we should legislate to allow for management structures involving directly-elected provosts/leaders, we have noted the extensive opposition to this model of political management and have concluded that, given the lack of demand for it and the degree to which it is not central to Scottish councils’ thinking on structural modernisation, there would be little benefit in legislating in its favour in the forthcoming local government Bill.
On the issue of eligibility of council employees to become councillors in their own councils, the consultation has persuaded us that there is a case for relaxing the current rules. We have therefore decided that future local government legislation should contain provisions which would allow council employees (other than those in politically restricted posts) to stand for election to their own council without having to resign their posts until they are elected.
On the issue of which council employee posts should be deemed "politically restricted", we note that the political sensitivity of a given post is determined by the nature of the post rather than the salary it receives. We therefore conclude that the current statutory salary threshold (above which all posts are deemed to be politically restricted) is not a reasonable measure of political restriction and that it should be abolished. We intend to legislate to do so as soon as the opportunity arises and prior to that we will consult on which types of post should be designated as politically restricted.
Mr Adam Ingram (South of Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will detail the total capital allocations made available to each local authority in each year from 1996-97 to 1999-2000.
Mr Jack McConnell: I refer the member to my letter of 9 September 1999 in response to questions S1W-743 and S1W-744. A copy is available from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre.
Dorothy-Grace Elder (Glasgow) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has made any representations to Her Majesty's Government and, in particular, the Home Secretary over the proposed boxing match involving Mike Tyson in Glasgow.
Angus MacKay: I refer the member to the reply I gave to PQ S1O-1765.
Mr Duncan Hamilton (Highlands and Islands) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive when the Minister for Health and Community Care will provide an answer to the letter dated 27 January 2000 on the subject of referral and waiting times in Argyll and Bute.
Susan Deacon: I wrote to Mr Hamilton on 9 June and am sorry for the delay in responding.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive to detail the number of cruise ships docking in Scotland over the last five years on an annual basis and by port.
Sarah Boyack: This information is not held centrally. Transport Statistics Report: Maritime Statistics provides a wide range of information on UK port traffic movements and it is available through The Stationery Office.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what action it has taken or plans to take, and what representations it has made or plans to make, regarding the regulation of ports and harbours.
Sarah Boyack: Ports in Scotland are subject to a wide range of statutory and regulatory requirements covering both devolved and reserved responsibilities. The Executive is working with the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions on a wide ranging ports policy paper setting out how Government will work with the industry, its users and other interests to ensure that regulation adds value to the ports industry and that the overall demands are co-ordinated.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will create a port and harbours regulator or ombudsman, and what are the reasons for its decision on this matter.
Sarah Boyack: The Executive has no plans to create a port and harbours regulator or ombudsman because the need for such a post has not been demonstrated.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has for ports and harbours in Scotland.
Sarah Boyack: The Scottish Executive plans to develop its devolved responsibilities for ports and harbours policy in Scotland within the integrated transport policy framework set out in the White Paper, Travel Choices for Scotland. The Executive plans to issue a ports "daughter document" to the White Paper which will set out detailed policies to enable Scottish ports and harbours to develop in the light of Scotland’s transport and environmental circumstances.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to regulate port charges.
Sarah Boyack: Ports and harbour charges are subject to controls in the Harbours Act and related legislation. These include powers for statutory ports and harbour authorities to levy charges, subject to a statutory right of objection, and related obligations to publish dues and to keep accounts.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to review port investment.
Sarah Boyack: Investment in ports is the responsibility of the individual port and harbour authority owner and operator involved.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive to detail port investment in Scotland, by port, over the last 10 years.
Sarah Boyack: This information is not held centrally.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what resources and incentives have been provided to local authorities to assist them in a recycling strategy annually since 1997 and what will be available in future financial years for which figures are available.
Sarah Boyack: Local authorities are given an annual budget and normally it is for the individual authority to decide how the money is spent. Grant Aided Expenditure for waste, including recycling, was some £116 million in 1999-2000.
In recognition of the additional administrative burden created by the National Waste Strategy: Scotland, £2.5 million per annum was identified for preparation and planning for implementation of the strategy. This money is available from this year onwards.
Future spending on recycling and waste management will depend on the results of the Spending Review, which will be announced in the autumn.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive Scottish Executive what targets it has set for the recycling of household waste.
Sarah Boyack: No targets have been set to date.
If targets are to be realistic and worthwhile they must be based on sound data. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has committed itself to providing guidance on targets for household waste recycling by the end of this year.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what its strategy is to support the separation and recycling of household waste.
Sarah Boyack: The National Waste Strategy: Scotland defined 11 Waste Strategy Areas which group together local authorities, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the waste industry, waste producers, voluntary organisations and local business.
These groups are working to identify the best method of dealing with waste in each area, including the role for separation and recycling of waste. I have asked that area waste plans should be submitted to the Executive by the end of this year.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what action it proposes to take to support offshore wind development, what funding has been provided for offshore wind development on an annual basis since 1997, and what steps it will take to regulate any charges to be levied by the Crown Estates Commission.
Sarah Boyack: The Executive is currently consulting about an obligation on electricity suppliers to provide an additional 5% of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2010. However this obligation would not be technology specific.
In addition, we are encouraging Scottish companies to seize the opportunities which should arise from the development of renewable energy projects, including offshore wind. Developers of offshore wind projects can apply for research and development funding from the Department of Trade and Industry’s budget for New and Renewable Energy. Such projects within UK waters require a licence from the Crown Estate Commissioners as owners of the sea-bed. The UK Government is working closely with the Commission to ensure that the potential for wind energy is realised.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton (Lothians) (Con): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will detail all documents it has received from Midlothian Council in respect of the A701, which departments received these documents and when they were received.
Sarah Boyack: The Scottish Executive Development Department received from Midlothian Council an outline bid for Transport Challenge Funding (July 1996), an outline business case for upgrading of the A701 (May 1998), a report on the affordability of the A701 project (February 1999) and a report on the proposed A701 improvements (March 1999).
The Scottish Executive Development Department also received from the council in October 1999 a Notice of Intention to Develop in respect of proposed transport improvements to the A701, together with associated documents as follows:
The formal notice required by the regulations; location plans and drawings, copies of consultation letters; copies of letters of representation from 440 people and three petitions listing a total of 266 signatures; a statement from Midlothian Council; a leaflet on transport options for Penicuik and Loanhead to Edinburgh; and an Environmental Statement together with a Supporting Information Report and a Non-technical Summary.
Alex Johnstone (North-East Scotland) (Con): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it intends to grant Angus Council the necessary special borrowing consent to fund the replacement of the A92 bridge over the South Esk at Montrose.
Sarah Boyack: The Scottish Executive has no plans to provide Angus Council with special borrowing consent to fund the replacement of the A92 bridge over the South Esk at Montrose. It is for Angus Council to determine its spending priorities from within its overall capital expenditure resources.
The level of resources for local authority capital expenditure will be considered as part of the Spending Review.
Donald Gorrie (Central Scotland) (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive what arrangements have been made to ensure that local councillors and relevant local organisations are informed of consultation meetings about proposals relating to major transport corridors such as the M80/A80 and M8/A8.
Sarah Boyack: The Executive recognises that effective consultation is a crucial element of the multi-modal corridor studies. As part of the scoping study, 140 organisations were invited to the consultative forum at Cumbernauld on 30 May and 45 representatives attended. 150 organisations have been invited to the next forum meeting on 21 June.
The scoping study will identify a consultation and communication strategy for the main studies. This will ensure that local councillors and relevant local interest groups are kept informed of consultation meetings.
Pauline McNeill (Glasgow Kelvin) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will ensure that people who take up individual learning accounts will not be disenfranchised from taking up grants, bursaries and other forms of student financial support.
Henry McLeish: Individual Learning Accounts are designed to help people overcome the financial barriers to learning and to encourage them to undertake and invest in their own learning throughout their lifetime. They will be available to all people aged 18 and over. The incentives and discounts available under ILAs, however, will not be able to be used for such education or training where the individual is already supported by scholarships, grants or other allowances paid out of public funds. It would be inappropriate to provide the benefit of both forms of public support for the same learning.
Mr Murray Tosh (South of Scotland) (Con): To ask the Scottish Executive, further to the answers to questions S1W-6991 and S1W-6992 by Sarah Boyack on 1 June 2000, what the timescale will be for the introduction of secondary legislation, in the form of an amendment to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992, to remove permitted development rights in general for telecommunications developments.
Sarah Boyack: We are currently discussing the future scope of planning controls over telecommunications with local authorities and the industry in the light of the recommendations in the report from the Transport and the Environment Committee. We intend consulting on draft legislation and associated guidance during the summer. Our normal practice is to allow eight weeks for responses. We will give full consideration to the responses and bring forward the necessary legislation as soon as possible thereafter.
Mr Kenneth Gibson (Glasgow) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive, further to the answer to question S1W-3566 by Susan Deacon on 17 February 2000, whether its plans to examine measures for better enforcement of the law to tackle those who make illegal sales to young people include liaison with the Ministerial Group set up within the Department of Trade and Industry to examine issues including how to make enforcement of consumer protection more effective, especially in relation to the group’s work on simplifying legislation on age limits.
Henry McLeish: My participation in the Ministerial Group on Consumer Affairs will ensure that the Executive’s views on a number of consumer matters, including the issue of age-related sales, will be clear to the Department of Trade and Industry and other government departments.
Bristow Muldoon (Livingston) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it plans to review Scottish Office Home and Health Department Circular 1992 (GEN) 9 and, in particular, whether it will amend this circular to allow the voluntary involvement of informed young people in controlled and supervised test purchases of tobacco, given that this is currently prevented primarily on the welfare ground of protecting child volunteers from a court appearance while children who purchase cigarettes on their own volition can appear as witnesses.
Susan Deacon: We have no such plans. The particular aspect of the guidance referred to is a Crown Office matter and their view, which has not been arrived at lightly, remains as stated in the guidance. We are, however, working closely with CoSLA, ACPO(S) and trading standards representatives in Scotland to develop an enforcement strategy using alternative methods which are compatible with the criminal justice system in Scotland.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will increase its targets of 1,000 modern apprenticeships by 2003 in the tourism industry given that the number of persons employed within the industry is between 170,000 and 180,000 and, if not, why not.
Henry McLeish: I believe that the target is realistic taking into account the age range for Modern Apprenticeships, which is 16-24, the range of occupations in the tourist industry and the current level of uptake of Modern Apprenticeships in the industry.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what will be done with the proceeds from the sale of the tourist information centres in the Highlands and Islands; whether such proceeds will be reinvested in the tourist industry, and whether it will place in the Scottish Parliament Information Centre a breakdown of the proceeds from the sale of each tourist information centre and details of to which budget the proceeds will be or have been credited.
Henry McLeish: This is a commercial matter for HIE. Proceeds from the sale of the TICs, along with receipts from other property sales and rentals, form part of HIE’s overall budget management process and is reinvested in new economic development throughout the area. The TICs were sold as a package and prices are therefore not available for individual units. The properties referred to, however, are still being leased to the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board for use as Tourist Information Centres.
Mr David Davidson (North-East Scotland) (Con): To ask the Scottish Executive what plans exist to invest additional money in the transport infrastructure, how much this will amount to and whether the availability of any additional funds will alter its position on the proposed western peripheral bypass for Aberdeen.
Sarah Boyack: The Minister for Finance informed Parliament on 16 May that an additional £15.9 million was to be allocated to transport in 2000-01. I have already announced that the money will fund a range of transport improvements across Scotland, notably Safer Routes to School and capital investment in Highlands and Islands airports. The Executive’s position on the proposed western peripheral bypass for Aberdeen remains as I set out in the debate in Parliament on 10 May.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what steps it proposes to ensure that Granton Harbour in Edinburgh remains viable for fast ferry services following any redevelopment.
Sarah Boyack: The redevelopment of Granton Harbour is primarily a matter for Forth Ports plc as the statutory harbour authority subject to the relevant planning requirements involved. It is also for the harbour authority and any potential ferry operator to consider the practicality and viability of any possible fast ferry services from the harbour.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will detail any input and involvement it had into the investigation by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions into ports and harbours and whether it can advise when any report of this investigation will be published.
Sarah Boyack: The Scottish Executive maintains regular contact with DETR on a wide range of ports and harbour issues. This includes the devolved aspects of a UK wide review of ports policy following a consultation paper issued by DETR in February 1999. The Executive plans to publish the outcome of the review in the form of a ports "daughter document" to the White Paper Travel Choices in Scotland in co-operation with DETR during the course of this year.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether, in respect of the pension scheme surplus of the Transport Operation Pension Scheme (TOPS), it will provide all information and assistance requested to the trade union representatives representing the workforce and support the efforts of the workforce in campaigning for distribution to them of the surplus from the pension scheme.
Sarah Boyack: Information about the administration of the Transport Operatives Pensions Scheme is a matter for the Trustees of the Scheme until such time as the scheme is wound up. The distribution of any surplus is governed by the Trust Deeds, the Scottish Transport Group (Pension Schemes) Order 1996 approved by the UK Parliament in 1996 and the provisions of the Bus Group disposal programme prepared under section 1 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 1989 and published in 1990.
Euan Robson (Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will instruct water authorities to include the address and telephone number of the Water Industry Commissioner for Scotland on the reverse of bills in line with the practice of energy companies which list the addresses and telephone numbers of electricity and gas consumer representatives.
Sarah Boyack: It is important that customers know who best to contact if they have a query about their bill.
For household bills, details of the water and sewerage charges are included on council tax bills issued by local authorities. Until now, following the recommendation of a joint working group of CoSLA, the water authorities and the Scottish Office in 1996, bills have identified local authorities as the main point of contact, to avoid potential confusion and ensure that the customer's billing complaint or query is dealt with promptly.
Non-household bills are issued directly by the authorities themselves, whom a customer should always contact first with a complaint or query.
I am happy to review this approach and to seek agreement on appropriate formats with the water authorities, local authorities and the Water Industry Commissioner for bills in 2001-02.
Fergus Ewing (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will specify what the new guaranteed minimum service standards for water customers across Scotland are; what are the circumstances whereby water authorities must compensate customers who receive poor service; whether the standards apply to the drinking quality of water; whether standard compensation will be listed for planned interruptions, delays in restoration of supply, response to complaints and reply to enquiries, failure to maintain appointments and flooding sewers; whether there is compensation payable for the contamination of a water supply, and, if compensation is not available in any of these circumstances, whether it will explain the reasons.
Sarah Boyack: The Water Industry Commissioner is currently consulting on his proposals for new guaranteed minimum service standards for water customers, which cover the various circumstances listed in your question. The details of the proposals are available directly on the Commissioner’s website (www.watercommissioner.co.uk). I welcome the Commissioner’s commitment to work with the water authorities to increase their standards of service to customers.
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Lothians) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it plans to legislate to ensure that water companies and other relevant bodies have a statutory duty to tell householders of high lead levels noted in the water supply following testing or inspection.
Sarah Boyack: The draft Water Supply (Water Quality) (Scotland) Regulations 2000, that are currently out to consultation, require water authorities to notify householders of any breach of the lead standard detected as a result of sampling. In practice, the Scottish water authorities already carry out such notification.