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Fixed -costs Regime

Ms Walley: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he plans to announce his decision on the issue of fixed costs in personal injuries claims; and if he will make a statement. [25002]

Mr. Hoon: I intend to issue a consultation paper about costs in the fast track after Easter.

Ms Walley: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what representations he has received in respect of the piloting of the fast track regime prior to any introduction of fixed costs; and if he will make a statement. [25003]

Mr. Hoon: Some support for the idea of piloting the fast track was expressed in response to the Working Paper "Judicial Case Management", published in July 1997. In line with Lord Woolf's recommendations hypothetical case studies are in hand but no final decision about the basis for a fixed-costs regime has yet been taken.

Withheld Records

Mr. Baker: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list the titles of those files from 1967 which were not released on the 1 January for public scrutiny (a) in whole and (b) in part. [26276]

Mr. Hoon: The documentation of withheld records kept by the Public Record Office, and in particular of withheld extracts from documents, is not in a form which would enable a listing of unavailable records from 1967 to be produced by their titles, within the time available and without disproportionate cost.

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Queen's Counsel

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will establish which common law jurisdictions have abolished the institution of Queen's Counsel. [25621]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: I have been asked to reply.

Detailed information is not readily available. But in general terms, only Her Majesty's Realms retain the institution of Queen's Counsel.

CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT

Millennium Commission

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport by what procedures the Millennium Commissioners are accountable to him with respect to those millennium projects experiencing financial problems. [24447]

Mr. Chris Smith: As Chairman of the Millennium Commission, I, in conjunction with my fellow Commissioners, have overall responsibility for monitoring the flow of grant to projects to ensure continued cost effectiveness and value for money. The Commission submits its annual report and accounts for Parliamentary scrutiny.

As Secretary of State I am responsible to Parliament for funds made available to the Commission, and have to satisfy myself that financial and other management controls applied by the Commission conform with the requirements of propriety, regularity and good financial management. The Accounting Officer of the Commission is accountable to the Accounting Office of my Department for the proper stewardship of the Commission's share of the National Lottery Distribution Fund.

Cannes Film Festivals

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans Ministers in his Department have to visit the Cannes Film Festival in May. [25552]

Mr. Chris Smith [holding answer 26 January 1998]: There are as yet no firm plans for a Minister from my Department to visit the Cannes Film Festival, but Ministerial attendance at this event is customary.

ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS

Housing (Voluntary Transfers)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many local authorities have completed large-scale voluntary transfers of their housing stocks; and if he will list (a) those authorities and (b) those other authorities which have now expressed an interest in this process. [24818]

Mr. Raynsford: Sixty-one local authorities in England have completed sixty-five transfers comprising over

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252,000 properties since 1988. All but one of those transfers was to a Registered Social Landlord. A list of the authorities who have completed a full or partial stock transfer is at table A. Thirty-two authorities have either expressed an interest in transferring all or part of their stock or are in the process of completing a transfer. They are listed at table B.



















































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Street Trees

Ms Jenny Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on guidance given by his Department to utility companies which engage in trenching in urban areas, to encourage the preservation of mature street trees; and what monitoring takes place of the impact of trenching activities on mature trees. [24871]

Angela Eagle: The Specification for the Reinstatement of Openings in Highways, issued under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, advises utility undertakers executing street works to avoid damage to tree roots, where practicable. Practical guidance on how to minimise

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damage to trees by utilities' works was issued subsequently by the National Joint Utilities Group in Guidelines for the Planning, Installation and Maintenance of Utility Services in Proximity to Trees (NJUG 10).

No central monitoring of the impact of trenching activities on mature trees is undertaken.

Business Rates

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what estimates he has of the numbers of (a) village stores and (b) sub-post offices in Lancashire which are likely to benefit from the 50 per cent. reduction in business rates. [24845]

Mr. Raynsford: We have insufficient data on which to make a reliable estimate of the numbers of general stores and post offices in Lancashire that will benefit from the 50 per cent. mandatory rate relief under the village shop rate relief scheme. Nationally we expect about 6,000 businesses to qualify for the new mandatory relief.

Personal Files (Access)

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received from local authorities about the cost of satisfying requests for access under legislation relating to access to personal files; and if he will make a statement. [25448]

Mr. Raynsford: None.

The Access to Personal Files (Housing) Regulations 1989 allow local authorities to charge a fee--of no more than £10--to respond to requests for access to information. Circular advice from my Department is that the amount charged in each case should reflect the costs incurred.


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