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Heavy Goods Vehicles

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what regulations are in place to ensure that heavy goods vehicles operating in the United Kingdom from overseas meet British safety standards. [75758]

Ms Glenda Jackson: All such vehicles must comply with the standards of roadworthiness defined in the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. Under the Road Traffic (Foreign Vehicles) Act 1972, a vehicle which fails to comply may be prohibited from continuing its journey and its driver may be liable to prosecution.

Local Rail Heads

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what (a) grants are and (b) support is available from his Department for the establishment of local rail heads by haulage companies. [75760]

Ms Glenda Jackson: Two grants are available from the Department to assist companies facing higher costs as a result of choosing to move freight by rail rather than road. Freight Facilities Grants assist with the capital costs often associated with rail movements (e.g. rail infrastructure and specialised loading/unloading equipment). Track Access Grants are paid to freight operators to help defray Railtrack charges for access to the rail network in respect of traffic which would otherwise move by road.

During the last 12 months, the availability of these grants and the greatly increased annual budget, currently standing at £40 million, has been widely advertised in both the trade and national press.

Workplace Parking Levy

Mr. Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what estimate he

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has made of the amount which will be raised under the workplace parking levy from schools and hospitals in the Greater London Area. [75765]

Ms Glenda Jackson: None. Decisions on whether to introduce a scheme and, if so, on geographical extent, levels of charge and possible exemptions, will all be matters for the Mayor.

Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations

Mr. McNulty: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he has any plans to exempt new rail vehicles from the provisions of the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998; and if he will make a statement. [76049]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998 apply to all new rail vehicles first brought into use after 31 December 1998. Operators who introduce new rail vehicles into service after this date which do not fully meet the regulations must apply to the Secretary of State for exemption.

We are expecting to receive a number of exemption applications from rail operating companies whose design of rail vehicles was well advanced prior to the new regulations coming into force. We are required to consult our statutory disabled advisers, the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC), in considering any such application.

The first application was received for the trams for use on Line 1 of the Midland Metro System. Exemption regulations relating to those trams have been placed before Parliament today. DPTAC recommended that the exemptions should be granted subject to certain conditions being applied to them. The exemptions are mostly of a very minor nature and have been requested for a short time only. We have accepted DPTAC's recommendations. The exemptions will not prevent disabled people from using the new system and we believe the system will make a significant contribution to improving mobility opportunities for disabled people in the area.

Spot-listed Buildings

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many buildings have been spot-listed in Greater London in the past year. [75503]

Mr. Alan Howarth: I have been asked to reply.

163 buildings and structures in Greater London were spot-listed between 1 March 1998 and 28 February 1999. A further 497 were listed as a result of reviews of the Camden and Southwark lists and 101 following thematic studies of particular building types.


European Commissioners

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Prime Minister what regulations provide for political neutrality in speeches made by European Commissioners; and if he will make a statement. [75163]

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The Prime Minister: As has always been the case, Commissioners have a collective responsibility not publicly to oppose decisions made by the College of Commissioners.

Foreign Media Articles

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list those members of his office involved in the drafting and distribution of articles written by him for publication by the international media. [75644]

The Prime Minister: Depending on the subject matter, various civil servants and special advisers in my office assist me in drafting articles for publication by the international media. This is a practice adopted by successive Administrations.

Ministerial Meetings

Mr. Baker: To ask the Prime Minister if he will set out the basis for his practice of not making information available regarding meetings with private individuals or companies. [75673]

The Prime Minister: Ministers and civil servants meet many people as part of the process of policy development and analysis. All such contacts are conducted in accordance with the Ministerial Code, the Civil Service Code and Guidance for Civil Servants: Contacts with Lobbyists. Some of these discussions take place on a confidential basis, and in order to preserve confidentiality, it is not the normal practice of Governments to release details of specific meetings with private individuals or companies.

European Policy Discussions

Mr. Howard: To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions and on which dates he has discussed matters of European policy with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister with responsibility for Europe, the right hon. Member for Gateshead, East and Washington, West (Ms Quin) in the absence of the Foreign Secretary. [75794]

The Prime Minister: I have regular meetings with Ministerial colleagues and others on a wide range of subjects, and will continue to do so. As with previous Governments, it is not my practice to provide details of confidential discussions.

Sierra Leone

Sir Brian Mawhinney: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer to the right hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire on 3 March 1999, Official Report, columns 773-74, on the Foreign Affairs Committee's report on Sierra Leone, if he was informed by his officials of the contents of the report before 10.00 a.m. on 9 February. [75767]

The Prime Minister: As I made clear in my answer to the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire) on 23 February 1999, Official Report, column 231, in accordance with normal convention my Office received advance embargoed copies of the report from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at approximately 08.30 hours on Tuesday 9 February, the day the report was published.

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Select Committees (Leaked Documents)

Sir John Stanley: To ask the Prime Minister if (a) he, (b) civil servants in his Department or (c) special advisers in his Department have (i) had sight of drafts of select committee reports, in whole or in part, or (ii) been informed of conclusions of select committee reports prior to their publication by the select committees. [75669]

The Prime Minister: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire) on 1 March 1999, Official Report, column 531. There have been no instances of members of Select Committees giving me drafts of Select Committee reports, or of parts of reports including their conclusions, before publication. Nor to the best of my knowledge have there been any occasions on which members of Select Committees have given such material to civil servants or special advisers in my Office. This excludes embargoed copies issued under House of Commons Standing Order 116.


Air Miles

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many Air Miles have been earned by him and each of his Ministers; and how he proposes to use them. [73335]

Mr. Michael: None.

Fish and Shellfish Cultivation

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what meetings have been held by officials of his Department with Mr. Richard J. Slaski, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's independent assessor on fish and shellfish cultivation; and if he will make a statement. [73607]

Mr. Jon Owen Jones: None.

Mr. Slaski was appointed, by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in August 1998, as one of two Assessors for the forthcoming Review of Research and Development on Fish and Shellfish Cultivation and Health in England and Wales. He was selected from a number of candidates on the basis of his knowledge of the aquaculture industry and his experience in carrying out similar reviews for other Governments. His remit was to consult widely within the industry and academia and to produce a report that identified constraints to the further development of the industry, identified gaps in the current R&D programme and proposed priorities for R&D for the next five years. That report along with another which focuses on health matters, will form the basis for discussion as part of the Review; Welsh Office officials will be involved in those discussions.

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