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Mr. Tony Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what guidance there is on the protection of new dwellings from radon; and if he will make a statement. [98390]

Ms Beverley Hughes: BRE have today published a revised version of BR 211 "Radon: Guidance on Protective Measures for New Dwellings", which updates previously published guidance, details measures that must be incorporated in new buildings and defines the geographical areas where radon protection is necessary. The Approved Document to Part C of the Building Regulations 1991 refers to the BRE document as a source of advice on where radon protection may be needed and what new measures are appropriate.

In addition to Cornwall and Devon and parts of Somerset, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire--which were covered in previous guidance--the new guidance identifies new areas where radon protection will be needed. These are parts of the Yorkshire Dales; parts of Wales and the Welsh Border; South Oxfordshire; parts of the Midlands adjacent to the currently delineated areas in Derbyshire; Northamptonshire; parts of Gloucestershire, the Lake District and Northumberland. There are also a few scattered areas in south-east England where these measures need to be applied.

As well as the maps based on NRPB data, BR 211 contains a second set of maps based on the assessment of geological radon potential which has been prepared by the British Geological Survey. These maps show grid squares that are underlain, completely or in part, by geological units that potentially exceed the action level for either basic or full protection. The guidance explains how the two sets of maps should be used to determine the level of protection needed.

Copies of BR 211 have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Taxi Fares (Millennium)

Mr. Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he has reached a decision on what fares London taxi drivers can charge over the Millennium celebrations. [98402]

Mr. Hill: I intend to take forward a statutory instrument so that from 8.00 pm on 31 December 1999 until 6.00 am on 1 January 2000 London taxi fares, including any extra charges to the standard tariff, should be double the total amount shown on the meter, up to a total metered fare of £25. For total metered fares of over £25, there should be added a flat rate supplement of £25 to the total metered fare. The normal supplement of £3 for New Year's Eve will not apply. Details of all these arrangements must be displayed in the vehicle.

In reaching this decision I have taken account of representations from the London taxi trade, and the interests of the travelling public, both in having taxis available to them, and in having fares which are not unreasonable on this unique occasion. I believe these rates represent a sensible balance between making it worthwhile for drivers to work that night and protecting consumers from exorbitant charges.

11 Nov 1999 : Column: 702

Aviation Policy

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he intends to publish (a) the consultation paper and (b) the White Paper on aviation policy. [98408]

Mr. Hill: I will write to the hon. Member.

National Forest Company

Mr. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he will report on the National Forest Company's progress in creating the National Forest in the East Midlands. [98411]

Mr. Mullin: I have arranged for copies of the National Forest Company's Annual Report and its Accounts for 1998-99 to be placed in the House Libraries.

Maritime Traffic

Mr. Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) how many incidents there were involving breaches of the Channel traffic separation scheme and collision prevention regulations in each year from 1988 to the present; and what were the names and flags of the ships involved; [98415]

Mr. Hill: I will write to my hon. Friend.

Pollution Charges

Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) on what dates integrated pollution prevention and control charges will come into effect in each of the other EU member states; [98431]

Mr. Hill: I will write to the hon. Member.


Millennium Compliance

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the President of the Council what means she has used to target small shopkeepers from the Asian community to ensure they are Year 2000 compliant. [97278]

11 Nov 1999 : Column: 703

Ms Hewitt: I have been asked to reply.

All small companies, in whatever sector or community, have been a target for Action 2000's "Act now!" Campaign, which has included a multimedia campaign offering an Action Pack of Helpsheets obtainable by contacting a free Action Line and website. Poster campaigns in July of 1998 and through 1999 were directed at all business communities. A "Last Chance Guide" was mailed to all UK businesses with 1-249 staff in September 1999 and a London regional campaign provided opportunities for Asian businesses to exchange experiences with others.

Specific initiatives which focused more directly on the Asian community have included the London business channel review in July 1998 which established contact with Asian Business Initiative, Asian Business Network and the Brick Lane Business Association. Paid advertising has been placed in Asian media and, since 1998, an on-going dialogue has been established with an Asian publishing group offering interviews and free articles by the Action 2000 Press Office about the need to achieve Year 2000 compliancy.

Portcullis House

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee if he will provide details of specification and cost for (a) carpets per square metre, (b) office furniture by type of item, (c) stone and brick by type used and (d) lighting for Portcullis House. [96725]

Sir Sydney Chapman [holding answer 3 November 1999]: Of necessity the specifications used in the contracts for the Portcullis House project are lengthy, detailed documents. In summary, therefore, the information requested is as follows (with all the figures exclusive of VAT).

11 Nov 1999 : Column: 704

    Estimated contract values

    Desks and tables--£685,000

    Office chairs--£440,000

    Easy chairs--£110,000

    Leather seating--£205,000

    Worktops and shelving--£380,000

    (Each of these contracts also includes the provision of furniture in areas other than offices).



    Courtyard paving--carboniferous limestone in slab sizes of between 600mm x 600mm and 780mm x 780mm and various other sizes on a cementitious screed base. Stone faced planters, seats, pool and water feature.

    External paving--the detailed design, fabrication, supply and installation of a natural stone paving to terrace, arcade and general pavement/road areas, laid either in a traditional manner or with lightweight void filler over asphalt waterproofing.

    Sandstone columns--supply only sandstone blocks of various dimensions cut, dressed and worked to accommodate reinforcing mechanism. Colour range pink to red, predominantly light red. Crushing strength 40N/per square metre (tested to ASTM C170-87). Modulus of rupture 6.9N/per square metre (tested to ASTM C99/87).

    Granite plinths and walling--supply granite blocks dressed and worked to accommodate stressing mechanisms. Block sizes approximately 1300mm x 1400mm x 900mm and 290mm x 1000mm. Colour range--pink to red predominantly. Crushing strength 140N/per square metre (tested to ASTM C170-87). Modulus of rupture 10N/per square metre (tested to ASTM C99/87).

    Estimated contract values

    Courtyard paving--£560,000

    External works--£1 million

    Sandstone columns--£3.6 million

    Granite plinths and walling--£580,000

    (The sandstone contract was on a supply only basis, as was most of the work in the granite contract, the scope of which was reduced for technical reasons after the contract was awarded. The contract for the external works also covers the gates and railings).

    Brick is not being used on the project.

    Lighting--there are various types of light fittings which form part of a much larger package for the provision of design and installation of electrical services within the building.

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee what is the estimated cost per square metre of office space for Portcullis House. [96724]

Sir Sydney Chapman [holding answer 3 November 1999]: As an extension to the facilities provided in the Palace of Westminster, Portcullis House provides much more than office space. Of the six main floors, four are to be used for offices with the actual office space taking up less than a third of the total floor area. Based on the current forecast, the estimated capital cost of the building, including the office space, is £6,200 per square metre (excluding VAT).

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