Previous Section Index Home Page

English Nature

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps he has taken to ensure that no conflict of interest arises as a result of the Chairman of English Nature being also a non-executive director of a water company; and if he will make a statement. [57898]

Mr. Meale [holding answer 2 November 1998]: Baroness Young was required to seek consent from the Minister to join the Board of Anglican Water. The Minister gave his consent noting that Baroness Young's predecessor combined both posts without difficulty, and there are adequate provisions for dealing with conflicts of interest in English Nature's Council's Code of Practice.

National Air Traffic Services Ltd.

Mr. Colvin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list those organisations with which he has had discussions during the consultation on his paper, a Public Private Partnership for National Air Traffic Services Ltd.; and when he expects to reach his conclusions. [57915]

Dr. Reid: The Government published a consultation paper on their preferred option for National Air Traffic Services Ltd. on 20 October 1998 and responses to the paper have been requested by 31 January 1999. We will take account of the views expressed when reaching final decisions on the proposal early next year.

Since the consultation paper was published there have been no discussions with interested parties on the issues raised in the paper. I have, however, given evidence to the Transport Sub Committee and propose to have a meeting shortly with representatives of the CAA and NATS Trade Unions.

3 Nov 1998 : Column: 458

Energy Efficiency

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list (a) the statutory bodies and agencies which receive Government funding to promote energy efficiency and (b) the level of funding each received in the last year for which figures are available. [57907]

Mr. Meale: In 1997-98, the Government provided funding to 6 organisations to carry out programmes promoting energy efficiency. None is a statutory body or agency. Details of the funding they received are as follows:

Organisation£ million
BRECSU (Energy Efficiency Best Practice programme)7.9
ETSU (Energy Efficiency Best Practice programme)7.8
EAGA Ltd. (Home Energy Efficiency Scheme)74.3
Energy Action (Scotland)0.1
Energy Saving Trust19.7

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how much his Department spent on the promotion of energy efficiency in the United Kingdom in each of the last three years. [57906]

Mr. Meale: The funding made available by my Department on programmes to promote energy efficiency across all sectors in the United Kingdom in the years 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98 is set out as follows:

Under the government's Comprehensive Spending Review, my Department's spending on programmes to promote energy efficiency is planned to rise to a total of £222.6 million in 2001-02.

Road Traffic Reduction

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if it is his policy to secure a reduction in road traffic levels over the next three years. [57710]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The Government made clear in the recent White Paper "A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone" that, in order to tackle the congestion and pollution that is caused by road traffic, we need to reduce the rate of road traffic growth. We also said that we want to see an absolute reduction in traffic in those places and streets where the greatest environmental damage is done. The White Paper set out how we plan to achieve these objectives through integrated transport policies acting at the national and local level.

The first reports contained assessments of how, and over what time scale, our policies are expected to impact on road traffic will be produced during 1999. The Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997 obliges each local traffic authority to produce a report assessing existing and forecast levels of traffic on those roads for which it is the highway authority, and the results of its consideration of whether or not to set targets for road traffic reduction on

3 Nov 1998 : Column: 459

local roads in its area. We expect local authorities to submit the first, non-statutory interim, reports in July 1999 as part of their provisional local transport plans. In the light of these interim reports and plans, analysis of the impact of other measures we are proposing on road traffic, and advice from the independent Commission for Integrated Transport which we will be setting up, we will produce our first report under the Road Traffic Reduction (National Targets) Act 1998 on the question of national targets for road traffic reduction by the end of 1999.

Catalytic Converters

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the impact of catalytic converters on the levels of plutonium in the air; what recent studies have been carried out to establish those levels; and if he will make a statement. [57226]

Mr. Meale: Catalytic converters are not expected to have any effect on the levels of plutonium in air. However, they do contain platinum group metals. My Department commissioned a report from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in 1994 on the levels of these metals in the UK environment. The report concluded that there is no evidence of risks to human health from the use of platinum group metals in vehicle catalytic converters.

Local Authorities (Guidance)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to issue guidance to local authorities to assist them in reviewing their decision-making structures in advance of legislation to give effect to his White Paper proposals. [57781]

Mr. Raynsford: The Government welcomed the publication on 21 September by the Local Government Association of such a document entitled "Modernising Political Management Arrangements--Options within the Existing Legislative Framework".

Revenue Support Grant

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will set out for each year from 1992-93 to 1998-99 the (a) amount of RSG, (b) real value of RSG in April 1998 prices, (c) proportion of the RSG that reflects demographic and other volume changes and (d) proportion of RSG that accounts for new responsibilities. [57783]

Ms Armstrong: The following table sets out total Revenue Support Grant (RSG) paid to English local authorities between 1992-93 and 1998-99 in cash, and in real terms at 1998-99 values using the GDP deflator.

3 Nov 1998 : Column: 460

Revenue Support Grant (RSG)
£ million

YearRSG CashRSG Real terms

The total of all local authorities' Standard Spending Assessments (so-called "net Total Standard Spending", or "net TSS") is that portion of local authority expenditure which the Government wish to support through general grants such as Revenue Support Grant. In deciding net TSS, we take into account relevant demographic and other volume changes affecting local authority services, as well as new local authority responsibilities, the scope for efficiencies, and the amount the country as a whole can afford. Because the settlement represents our assessment of local government spending needs in the round, it is not possible to say how much has been included either for particular, or in total for, new responsibilities and other pressures.

Area Committees

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make it his policy to allow local authorities which choose to establish area or neighbourhood committees to delegate decision-making on matters concerning their locality. [57782]

Mr. Raynsford: Bringing councils closer to the people and empowering local communities is at the heart of our policies. We believe the new political management structures proposed in our White Paper--"Modern Local Government--In touch with the people" (Cm 4014)--will ensure councils are best able to take decision which are open, accountable, and meet the needs of all their local neighbourhoods and communities.

Low-energy Lightbulbs

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to encourage the use of low-energy lightbulbs. [57669]

Mr. Meale: The energy efficiency of lighting is a significant environmental issue, given that lighting accounts for about a fifth of the electricity consumed in the UK. Research carried out for my Department suggests that there is economic and technical potential to save 32 per cent. of that energy. The Government already support a wide-ranging programme of measures, at national and European level, to encourage energy efficient lighting; and consultation is under way about further ways of delivering the potential savings.

At a national level, our Energy Efficiency Best Practice Programme provides valuable guidance to building professionals on cost-effective, energy efficient lighting measures. In addition, we are currently reviewing provisions in the Building Regulations to see, amongst other things, how standards of lamp efficacy, lighting system control and encouragement of better use of

3 Nov 1998 : Column: 461

daylight might be improved, for both new buildings and existing ones. Promotion of energy efficient lighting is carried out by the Energy Saving Trust, both through its overall "Energy Efficiency" campaign and through a new project, "Lightswitch", aimed at the non-domestic sector.

At EU level we continue to support common and co-ordinated policy measures to provide product information, raise product standards and facilitate the procurement of energy efficient lighting products. This activity is closely informed by the Market Transformation Programme, which we run in the UK to research the trends in the market and to consult with a full range of stakeholder groups about possible measures for hastening improvements in performance. An important next phase of the action coordinated at EU level will be the introduction of mandatory energy labels for light bulbs, on which we plan to have UK Regulations in place next June.

While continuing work of this kind to promote the uptake of more efficient lighting equipment, we shall also continue to promote general messages about using lights more efficiently, through my Department's "Are You Doing Your Bit?" campaign.

Next Section Index Home Page