Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals are pending to amend the regulations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of flora and fauna ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 39regulation on the possession of and trade in wild fauna and flora earlier this year. We are currently considering the details of the new text. Two explanatory memoranda on the proposals were recently deposited in the Library of the House.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his current estimate of the dates for completion of consultation work for the Lower Severn estuary special protection area, registering the same area with the environment directorate of the European Union, producing a conservation plan for the wetlands habitat of bird species covered by the 1979 wild birds directive within the same special protection area, and producing a national conservation strategy for the redshank and dunlin ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins [holding answer 22 April 1994] : Since the hon. Member's previous question on the lower Severn estuary of 26 October, Official Report, columns 533-34, my Department has received English Nature's proposals for the designation of this site as a special protection area. The period of consultation with private land owners and others by English Nature and the Countryside Commission for Wales ended on 18 April. The Lower Severn estuary is planned for designation as a special protection area in 1994.
English Nature and the Countryside Council for Wales are in the initial stages of preparing a management plan for the conservation of wildlife interests on the Severn. The Government's plans for the conservation of estuarial habitat and migratory wildfowl and waders, including dunlin and redshank, are informed by the extensive monitoring programmes compiled through the birds in estuaries inquiry, which uses a large number of professionally co-ordinated volunteers and is supported by the Government's nature conservation agencies. These programmes were recently re-launched, with Government endorsement, as the wetland bird survey.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average delay in appeals from Bradford being heard by the valuation and community charge tribunal ; what is the total number of appeals from Bradford appellants outstanding, to date ; when those appeals are expected to be cleared ; what action he is taking to complete all outstanding appeals ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Curry : A meaningful figure cannot yet be given on the average length of time taken to hear appeals, since a great many cases are being settled by agreement between the taxpayer and the Valuation Office agency and only a small proportion have been heard and determined by valuation tribunals.
At the end of March 1994, 3,334 proposals to alter the valuation list received in the area of Bradford city council were still outstanding.
As we announced on 11 January, we expect four out of five appeals to be dealt with before the end of the year and the remainder to be settled as rapidly as possible thereafter.
Mr. Raynsford : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many long leaseholders in flats have to date exercised their right to collective enfranchisement contained in part I of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (a) up to the stage of serving a notice of their claim to exercise the right and (b) to the completion of the acquisition.
Sir George Young : As collective enfranchisement under the provisions of this Act is a private transaction, leaseholders are not obliged to inform the Department when they serve a notice on their landlord or when they complete the transaction. Therefore, this information is not available.
Mr. Raynsford : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many inquiries from leaseholders have been received by the advisory service set up in consequence of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993.
Sir George Young : I understand from the chief executive of the leasehold enfranchisement advisory service, which operates independently from the Department that since it began work in February this year, 1,326 inquiries have been received and recorded.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received in respect of his proposal to lift protection from birds of prey ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : I announced on 21 February 1994 that, following our review, we proposed to make changes to the bird registration system to reduce unnecessary regulation and to ensure that the controls are targeted and implemented more effectively. We consulted around 7,000 organisations and individuals about our proposal and a copy of our consultation letter was placed in the Library. Some 192 responses were received.
The Government remain convinced that the bird registration system is in need of change. It was introduced for conservation reasons and mainly in response to concerns about the major decline in populations of birds of prey in the wild. Since the introduction of the registration system of 1982, populations of some species have recovered, particularly sparrowhawks, kestrels and common buzzards. Some concern was expressed by consultees that the removal of ringing and registration requirements could lead to an increase in the taking of birds of prey from the wild. However, we believe that the strict controls which will continue to protect birds of prey in the wild should avoid any threat to the conservation of the three United Kingdom breeding species to be removed from registration requirements : the sparrowhawk, kestrel and common buzzard. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 generally prohibits the injuring, killing or taking of birds from the wild. It also generally makes it an offence to possess any bird or egg, whether alive or dead, or any part or derivative of such a specimen.
The Act will continue to be strictly enforced. Moreover, the resources which will be released by deregistration will enable the Department's wildlife inspectorate to give
Column 41greater assistance to the police and other enforcement agencies in protecting all wild birds, particularly those more endangered species such as the hobby, red kite and golden eagle. Reorganising work in this way will also provide resources to expand the use of DNA testing techniques to verify captive breeding claims.
Concern was also expressed by the RSPCA and others that freedom of movement of specimens within the European Union would create opportunities for illegal trade in non-native birds, including globally threatened species. We have therefore decided that ringing and registration controls should continue to apply within Great Britain to birds of prey which are threatened with extinction on a global basis, in order to assist international conservation efforts. In particular this means that the following species originally proposed for deregistration will be retained on schedule 4 to the Act.
Species ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Black Honey-Buzzard |Henicopernis infuscatus Madagascar Fish Eagle |Haliaeetus vociferoides Pallas's Fish Eagle |Haliaeetus leucoryphus Steller's Sea Eagle |Haliaeetus pelagicus Mountain Serpent-Eagle |Spilornis kinabaluenis Adaman Serpent-Eagle |Spilornis elgini Madagascar Serpent-Eagle |Eutriorchis astur Small Sparrowhawk |Accipiter nanus New Britain Sparrowhawk |Accipiter brachyurus Imitator Sparrowhawk |Accipiter imitator Gundlach's Sparrowhawk |Accipiter gundlachi White-necked Hawk |Leucopternis lacernulata Grey-backed Hawk |Leucopternis occidentalis Ridgeway's Hawk |Buteo ridgwayi Galapagos Hawk |Buteo galapagoensis Hawaiian Hawk |Buteo solitarius New Guinea Eagle |Harpyopsis novaeguinae Great Philippine Eagle |Pithecophaga jefferyi Adalbert's Eagle |Aquila adalberti Imperial Eagle |Aquila heliaca Wallace's Hawk-Eagle |Spizaetus nanus Plumbeous Forest-Falcon |Micrastur plumbeus Lesser Kestrel |Falco naumanni Mauritius Kestrel |Falco punctatus
The Government proposal to invite the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to advise on criteria for the listing of species on schedule 4 and our proposal that the list of species should be subject to regular review, will enable us to respond to changes in population levels of particular species and introduce or reinstate registration requirements in the future. If necessary, this can be done swiftly to meet any conservation need. I have today made an order under section 22 of the Act. This will remove the following species from schedule 4 to the Act : sparrowhawk, kestrel, common buzzard, non-native and irregular visitor species of birds of prey--except the Barbary falcon and the globally threatened species listed above--and certain other birds which are not commonly kept in captivity.
Column 42membership in whole or in part is appointed by him or who exercise functions previously carried out by local authorities.
Mr. Norris : The Government's policy of extending access to official information applies not only to Government Departments but to public bodies which come under the jurisdiction of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, the ombudsman. Details are set out in the "Code of Practice on Access to Government Information", copies of which are available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the Acts of Parliament and Consolidation Acts that affect local government that have been introduced by his Department since 1990.
|Acts ----------------------------------------------------------- New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 |(c22) Road Traffic (Temporary Restrictions) Act 1991 |(c26) Road Traffic Act 1991 |(c40) Severn Bridges Act 1992 |(c3) Traffic Calming Act 1992 |(c30) Transport and Works Act 1992 |(c42) Railways Act 1993 |(c43)
(a) to hand serve summonses in connection with prosecutions for failure to pay vehicle excise duty ;
(b) to collect evidence and hand serve papers on people who have trespassed on the Department's land ;
(c) to establish the whereabouts of people believed to have caused damage to the Department's roads and structures for the purpose of making claims against them ;
(d) to trace former employees who were inadvertently overpaid before they left the Department's employ ;
(e) in litigation action ;
(f) in one case to investigate a member of staff following complaints received from members of the public.
Column 43European Transport Council on 18 April. I refer the hon. Member to my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester) of 20 April, Official Report, column 524, which reported the items discussed and result of the Council.
Mr. Key : My right hon. Friend sees no need for contingency plans. The Government would not have decided to transfer the Transport Research Laboratory to the private sector if we did not believe that that could be achieved.
Mr. Key : In 1994-95 not less than 40 per cent. by value of new surface transport research work commissioned by the Department of Transport will be guaranteed to the Transport Research Laboratory. The question of guaranteeing work for the Transport Research Laboratory after privatisation is a matter for consideration with our financial advisers and prospective bidders as part of the sale process.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will ensure that the service conditions of the Transport Research Laboratory staff are not adversely affected in the long term following privatisation.
Mr. Key : My right hon. Friend has undertaken to sell the Transport Research Laboratory only to reputable purchasers, who can demonstrate an ability to meet obligations to staff transferring to the new organisation.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will give details of the statement he made regarding future privatisation plans of the Transport Research Laboratory at the time of the setting up of the Transport Research Laboratory agency.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what procedure he proposes to introduce in respect of the transfer of intellectual property rights from the Transport Research Laboratory to the potential purchaser ; and if he will make a statement ; (2) what measures he proposes to ensure that collaborative research at the Transport Research Laboratory is not damaged by privatisation ;
(3) if he will take steps to guarantee the future availability of the (a) research track, (b) pavement test, (c) driving simulator, (d) library and (e) crash test facilities currently at the Transport Research Laboratory, Crowthorne.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the implications of fragmentation of the Transport Research Laboratory research undertakings ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Key : My right hon. Friend has considered carefully the advice of the consultants KPMG Peat Marwick on the options for privatisation of the Transport Research Laboratory, including fragmentation. The Government have not yet decided on the form of sale but the current aim is to seek bids for the whole of the laboratory rather than its constituent components.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research projects have been undertaken in the last 10 years ; in each case, whether this research was published, if applicable ; in what form it was made available to the general public ; and what proportion of his Department's commissioned research projects in each year have resulted in publication.
Mr. Key : The Department commissions many research projects each year addressing issues ranging from urban congestion, parking control, public transport operations, bridge and highway engineering to aviation and shipping safety. At any particular time, some 400 to 500 projects are in progress. In general, the Department's policy is that the results of this research commissioned should be published or otherwise disseminated to those expected to benefit from the knowledge.
Publication can be in the form of research reports, contractor reports, guides, papers and articles. The Transport Research Laboratory, which has been responsible for carrying out and managing much of the Department's research, has published approximately 800 such reports since 1985. Without disproportionate effort, it is not possible to establish in what form each research result was made available and what proportion this represents of the total research commissioned. Moreover, reports often do not represent the final outcome of the Department's research effort. In many cases, findings are promulgated through changes to technical standards, legislation, operational procedures and policy.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment he has made of the value of the combined research operations functioning on the purpose adapted site at Crowthorne ; (2) what assessment he has made of the financial value of collaborative research to the Transport Research Laboratory.
Mr. Key : Assessments of the value of the research operations at Crowthorne and of the collaborative research undertaken by the Transport Research Laboratory are commercially confidential information, the disclosure of which would be prejudicial to the sale process.
Mr. Key : My right hon. Friend will be considering the measures required to ensure the continued impartiality of the Transport Research Laboratory with his financial and other advisers as part of the process of transferring the laboratory to the private sector.
Mr. Key : The latest available estimates are for 1992. Approximately 8,900 vehicles use this route on average, each day. Of these about 53 per cent.--4,700--are westbound and 47 per cent.--4, 200--eastbound.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what response he has given to the recommendations of the Transport Select Committee's second report of Session 1993-94, HC 137, on privatisation and deregulation of Department of Transport agency work.
Mr. Key : The Government's response to the report of the Select Committee on Transport, on the privatisation and deregulation of Department of Transport executive agency work, was sent to the Committee on 30 March 1994. I understand that the Committee is to publish the response shortly.
Mr. Norris : A confidential benchmark valuation was carried out by London Transport before the sale. Potential purchasers made their own assessments of the value of the company in formulating their bids. In the light of the benchmark valuation, the Government were and remain content with the proceeds from the sale.
Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the sale conditions of the Westlink London Bus subsidiary included clawback clauses in the event of its resale within 12 months of its privatisation.
Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the statutory provision, with regard to trespass on railway land and property, and related offences, consequent upon the passing of the Railways Act 1993 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Freeman : The offence of trespass on railway land and property, and related offences, are covered by sections 54 and 57 of the British Transport Commission Act 1949. These sections apply to Railtrack by virtue of paragraph 9 of schedule 8 to the Railways Act 1993.
Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he received from the British Transport Police Federation in September 1993 on the effect of the Railways Act 1993 on offences relating to trespassing on railway property.
Mr. Freeman : None. The federation's chairman wrote to me on 2 September raising a number of issues which were subsequently discussed at a meeting on 8 September, but we did not touch upon the specific question of trespass.
Mr. Freeman : At 12.58 on Saturday 12 March, a British Rail train driver reported hounds on the line at Mortimer, south of Reading. The driver of the next train through at 13.02 reported a clear track. I understand that no further action is proposed.
Mr. Key : As this question relates to operational matters of the Highways Agency, the chief executive will write to the hon. Member. Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Mr. Andrew Mackinlay, dated 25 April 1994 :
You recently put down a Parliamentary Question asking the Secretary of State for Transport what is the expected date of the construction and completion of the Wennington to Mar Dyke section of the new A13 road. As the question relates to an operational matter for the Highways Agency, I have been asked to reply.
The A13 Wennington to Mar Dyke scheme has been announced as a new start for 1994-95. We expect to invite tenders shortly. The tender documents will set down a contract period not exceeding two years. Construction of the scheme will be co-ordinated with works for the Thames Avenue to Wennington section which started earlier this year.
Mr. Mandelson : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will place in the Library a copy of the contract between his Department and Lowe Bell Communications as consultants to the commemoration of the D-day anniversary.
Mr. Mandelson : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what provision for expenses and other remuneration to Lowe Bell Communications has been agreed in addition to its fee as consultants to the commemoration of the D-day anniversary.
Mr. Sproat [holding answer 22 April 1994] : In addition to its consultancy fees of £50,000, Lowe Bell Communications is paid administrative expenses at cost, up to a maximum of £12,500 over the period of the contract, where additional agreed expenses are incurred these are paid at cost. All these costs are net of VAT.
Mr. Mandelson : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will place in the Library all tender documents connected with the appointment of consultants to the commemoration of the D-day anniversary.
Mr. Sproat : My Department has a constructive and collaborative relationship with the leisure industry which it pursues in each of its areas of responsibility. Further details are set out in the Department's 1994 annual report.
12. Mr. Gareth Wardell : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what measures he intends to introduce to improve the chances of survival of patients admitted with life-threatening conditions into accident and emergency units in Wales.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : My right hon. Friend and I want to build on the present good record and the Welsh Office is currently working with the health service to review the pattern of accident and emergency provision across Wales.