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Speed Cameras

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he will install speed cameras in South Newton on the A36(T); and what additional traffic management measures he will introduce there. [28120]

Ms Glenda Jackson [holding answer 6 February 1998]: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Peter Nutt to Mr. Robert Key, dated 9 February 1998:



9 Feb 1998 : Column: 11


Genetically Modified Organisms

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is his Department's response to the representations from English Nature for a three-year ban on the cultivation of genetically modified herbicide-resistant crops; and if he will make a statement. [28130]

Angela Eagle: The Department invites English Nature to comment on all applications for research trials or marketing of genetically modified organisms. Their representations are taken into account in the Secretary of State's decision. In commenting on the specific genetically modified herbicide tolerant crops which have gone forward for marketing approval in the European Union, English Nature raised various concerns, but did not at that stage call for a three year ban.

In responding to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on a discussion paper on genetically modified herbicide tolerant crops in September 1997, English Nature stated that


The Ministry, along with my Department, is considering the large number of comments received about the discussion paper and will announce its conclusions as soon as it can.

In response to the concerns of English Nature and other conservation bodies about the widespread introduction of genetically modified crops and the resulting changes in pesticide use and agricultural practice; officials in my Department are considering the implications for the environment, particularly possible indirect effects on wildlife. We shall be having further discussions with English Nature and others on how these concerns may best be addressed.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the progress of his Department's research into genetically modified herbicide resistant crops. [28131]

Angela Eagle: The Department's research to monitor releases of genetically modified oil seed rape is being carried out by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany. This study started in 1995 and we expect to receive the final report in March. We will assess the implications of the research and the results will be published by the Department as a research report.

In September 1997, the Department commissioned NIAB to carry out a further three-year study into monitoring large scale releases of genetically modified

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crops. This will include crops entered into the national list trials such as winter oil seed rape and sugar beet. The results of this study will be published in due course.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions at what stage the HSE review into the disposal of non-reproductive genetically modified organisms has reached; and if he will make a statement. [28129]

Angela Eagle: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) consulted interested parties last year on a proposal for an exemption certificate which would allow disposal of untreated liquid waste containing GMOs when, on the basis of a thorough risk assessment, they are judged not to pose a risk to human health and the environment. The sort of GMOs concerned are those which are capable of only limited survival in the environment. Non-reproduction would be one of the factors considered in the risk assessment. The consultation also included detailed related guidance on risk assessment.

The Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification have evaluated the outcome of the consultation exercise. They advised that while no new issues about risk assessment had been raised in the consultation an independent review of the scientific literature should be commissioned, given the continual advances in knowledge in this area, to ensure that the very latest scientific information is taken into account. HSE has accepted this advice. Further consideration of the proposed certificate and guidance, by HSE and the Government Departments with an interest, has therefore been deferred pending completion of that review.

Council Tax Discount

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to extend discretion to local authorities in determining the level of council tax discount to second homes. [28393]

Mr. Raynsford: All dwellings in England which are no-one's sole or main residence, including second homes, attract a 50 per cent. discount. Local authorities do not have any discretion to vary this. Since the election, we have received a number of representations about the council tax liability of second homes. We are considering these as part of our review of the council tax.

Boundary Committee (Hertfordshire)

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will implement the recommendation of the Local Government Boundary Committee in Hertfordshire prior to 1998 local elections. [28480]

Mr. Raynsford: No. The intention is to introduce the new electoral arrangements in Hertfordshire for the local government elections in 1999.

Publications

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list, by title, the publications produced by his Department and by the office of the Deputy Prime Minister, between 1 May 1997 and 31 January 1998. [26329]

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Angela Eagle: The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) produces a wide variety of publications covering the full range of responsibilities of the Deputy Prime Minister and his Department. I am placing in the Library of the House a list of titles for DETR from its formation on 16 June 1997 to 31 January 1998. The list also includes titles produced by the former Department of the Environment from May 1997, and the former Department of Transport from June 1997.

Homelessness (Southampton)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what is the total number of registered homeless people in the Southampton City Council area; [27555]

Mr. Raynsford: The table provides the available data on the numbers of households accepted as homeless and in priority need under the homelessness provisions of the 1985 and 1996 Housing Acts in Southampton for the calendar years 1992 to 1996 and the first 9 months of 1997.

YearHomelessness acceptances
1992474
1993442
1994579
1995584
1996538
1997(1)398

(1) data for the first 3 quarters only.


Under Part VI of the Housing Act 1996, authorities must establish and maintain a housing register for the purpose of allocating their housing accommodation but there is no statutory obligation for local housing authorities to hold a register of homeless applicants. Accommodation secured as a discharge of a homelessness duty need not be a tenancy allocated under part VI of the 1996 Act.

Housing (Southampton)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many people are on the housing transfer list of the Southampton City Council; and what were the equivalent figures at the same time in each of the last five years. [27899]

Mr. Raynsford: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many people are on the housing waiting list of the Southampton City Council; and what were the equivalent figures at the same time in each of the last five years. [27558]

Mr. Raynsford: Local authorities in England report the numbers of households on their housing register/waiting list (excluding existing tenants awaiting a transfer) at 1 April each year in their annual Housing Investment

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Programme (HIP1) returns. The data reported by Southampton City Council for 1997 and the previous five years are as follows:

YearWaiting list
19925,915
19935,721
19945,704
19954,504
19966,233
19972,329


Local authorities have different practices for compiling and managing their housing register/waiting lists which mean that simple comparisons between authorities can be misleading. The substantial change in the figures between 1996 and 1997 resulted primarily from a review exercise linked with revisions to the housing register in order to meet the requirements of the 1996 Housing Act.


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