Previous Section Index Home Page


27. Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps he is taking to encourage local planning authorities to build new homes in existing town centres. [103279]

11 Jan 2000 : Column: 114W

Ms Beverley Hughes: We are revising our planning policy guidance on housing (PPG3) to encourage more housing to be provided in town centres and the conversion and reuse of buildings not currently in housing use, and the re-use of premises above shops. We have commissioned research to identify the impediments to mixed-use and housing developments in town centres, the results of which will be published later this year.

Train Overcrowding

28. Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he next plans to meet the Health and Safety Executive to discuss train overcrowding. [103280]

Mr. Hill: I have no plans to discuss train overcrowding with the Health and Safety Executive, who regard this issue as primarily one of passenger comfort and not safety.

Construction Industry

29. Mr. Paul Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on improving innovation and quality in the construction industry. [103281]

Ms Beverley Hughes: We are working closely with clients and the supply side to improve the performance of the construction industry by stimulating innovation and process improvement along the lines recommended in Sir John Egan's report "Rethinking Construction".

Demonstration projects to a value of around £3 billion have been put forward covering almost every aspect of construction by local authorities, housing associations, central Government Departments and agencies and by many private sector clients and suppliers.

National Air Traffic Services

30. Mr. Geraint Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of (a) proposals from the airlines for the corporate restructuring of the NATS and (b) the prospect of achieving consensus on such proposals across the wider air transport industry. [103282]

Mr. Mullin: The Government have not received any formal proposals from the airlines about the restructuring of NATS. The NATS PPP will be put in place following a competitive tender process and, should they choose to bid, any proposal from the airlines will be considered as part of that process. The responses to our consultation on the NATS PPP show that there is broad support for the Government' s proposals from the aviation industry.

Climate Change

31. Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on climate change. [103283]

Mr. Meacher: Climate change remains high on the Government's agenda and we are pressing ahead with the development of an ambitious UK climate change programme, a draft of which will be published shortly for

11 Jan 2000 : Column: 115W

consultation. We have already introduced many new and innovative policies that will reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases.

Passenger Information

33. Ms Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on measures taken to provide the travelling public with a one-stop national passenger information system. [103285]

Mr. Hill: The national public transport information system is being developed by partnerships of transport operators and local authorities.

Government have provided Supplementary Credit Approvals to local authorities of £1 million in 1998-99 and £3.3 million in 1999-2000 to assist with the capital requirements of the project.

The service is expected to be introduced progressively throughout Great Britain during 2000.

Planning System (Competition)

34. Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what his policy is on taking account of competition issues within the planning system. [103286]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The planning system is expected to be positive in promoting competition while ensuring the protection of the environment and amenity. It is required to treat all applications for planning consent even-handedly and to determine them on their planning merits.

Playing Fields

35. Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make it his Department's policy to discourage the development of playing fields currently being used for sport. [103287]

Ms Beverley Hughes: Planning Policy Guidance note 17: Sport and Recreation already emphasises the special significance of playing fields and that they should normally be protected. The Town and Country Planning (Playing Fields)(England) Direction 1998 requires referral to the Secretary of State of planning applications for development of local authority-owned playing fields or those currently, or in the previous five years, in educational use, where Sport England has objected but the local planning authority is minded to grant permission. The Secretary of State then has the opportunity to call in the application for his own determination.

School Crossing Patrols

36. Mr. Michael J. Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to increase the powers of school crossing patrols. [103289]

11 Jan 2000 : Column: 116W

Mr. Hill: My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions announced on 18 November 1998 that School Crossing Patrols would be given increased powers so that they can help any child or adult across the road and that the time restrictions on when they can operate will be removed.

The proposal to extend the powers of school crossing patrols was included in our White Paper, "A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone". It is a clear commitment. We will implement this proposal when a suitable legislative opportunity arises.

Local Authority Purchases (Inflation Rate)

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the current rate of inflation for the basket of goods and services purchased by local authorities. [103259]

Ms Beverley Hughes: Employee costs account for more than half of local authorities' costs, and this year's pay settlements affecting local authorities are in the region of 2 to 3.6 per cent. Local authorities will continue to benefit from the low inflation and stable economy being delivered by the good economic management this Government provides as well as the predictability that the three year settlement has provided.

Climate Change Levy

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what recent representations he has received from industry and business concerning the effects of the climate change levy. [103270]

Mr. Meacher: We receive many representations from business on the climate change levy and have been taking these into consideration in our development of detailed proposals. We have also issued a number of consultation papers, the latest--which invites comments on the Government's proposals for a £150 million business energy efficiency programme and tax relief scheme for investment in energy saving technologies--was published on 9 December 1999. Copies are available in the Libraries of the House.

Trams (Croydon)

Mr. Woolas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to issue an exemption order for the fleet of trams to be introduced into service in Croydon in respect of the provisions of the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998. [104620]

Mr. Hill: As my predecessor explained in her answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty) on 9 March 1999, Official Report, column 167W, we are expecting to receive a number of exemption applications from train and tram operating companies whose designs for new rail vehicles were well advanced prior to the 1998 Regulations coming into force.

11 Jan 2000 : Column: 117W

We have received an application from Tramtrack Croydon Ltd. relating to the new trams they wish to introduce on Croydon Tramlink. The exemptions have been discussed with our statutory advisers, the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee. An exemption Order relating to the exemption of these trams was laid in Parliament yesterday. Copies are available from the Library.

The exemptions will not prevent disabled people from using the new trams or trains. Indeed, we believe that their introduction will make a significant contribution to improving mobility opportunities for disabled people.

11 Jan 2000 : Column: 118W

Rural Bus Challenge 1999

Mr. Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he will announce the results of the 1999 Rural Bus Challenge competition. [104623]

Mr. Prescott: I am pleased to announce today approval of the 58 projects listed below which were submitted as bids by local authorities in this competition. This follows careful consideration of a total of 124 bids submitted by authorities. Funding for the successful bids will total £16.78 million. A Special Grant Report under Section 88b of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 will be put forward for Parliamentary approval as soon as possible.

11 Jan 2000 : Column: 117W

AuthorityValue (£)Title of Bid
Bath and NE Somerset801,127Enhanced Bus Services
Buckinghamshire985,000Easybus Project
Cheshire632,388Demand Responsive Rural Community Transport Strategy
Cornwall100,000The Helston-Redruth Branch Line Bus Service
57,270The Gorran and District Ring-and-Ride Service
Cumbria722,000Cumbrian Connexion
Derbyshire155,000Public Transport Information Technology
Devon640,000Buses are Cool
East Riding423,300MediBus Network
East Sussex102,000North Lewes District Rural Taxibus Partnership
Gloucestershire998,900IMPACT--Improving Accessible Transport
Greater Manchester312,000Rural Transport Operators
Hampshire169,457Fully Integrated Brockenhurst
Herefordshire78,000Home Hopper
Hertfordshire107,000Accessible Taxis Rural Areas Partnership
180,000Multi-purpose Accessible Vehicles in Rural Areas
Kent381,000Swale Unified Network (SUN)
Lancashire106,733Rural Intelligent Bus Stop System
280,999Garstang "Super 8" Variable Route Minibus Service
Lincolnshire940,962Spalding-Kings Lynn
Merseyside12,600Satellite Tracking and Communications Equipment
Norfolk478,800Quality Bus Partnership (Kings Lynn-Hunstanton)
North Lincolnshire88,095Brigg Bus Stop Infrastructure Improvements
North Yorkshire43,200Whixley Area Community Transport Project
Northamptonshire221,850East Northants Community Bus and Trailer Project
204,550Cross County Quality Bus Partnership
61,550Wellinborough Rural Door-to-Door Service
Northumberland74,000Access to Journey Planner
Oxfordshire62,192Cotswold Line Taxi-Bus Interchange
229,100Wheelchair Accessible Express Coach Feeder and Dial-a-Ride Service in South Oxfordshire
426,000Cherwell Valley Taxi-Bus Scheme
285,000Integrated Rural Taxi-Bus Links to Bicester North Railway Station
Redcar and Cleveland5,000Minibus Turning Circle
Shropshire21,600Bike-Bus Demonstration Project
21,900Community Transport Information System
Somerset90,823West Somerset Social Car Scheme
25,582Wells--Priddy Postbus
225,195Continuation of Mendip Flexibus Funding
South Gloucestershire540,300Strategic Interchange and Local Access Hubs
South Yorkshire40,478Hampole and Skelbrooke
1,342,275South Rotherham Transport Strategy
Staffordshire117,500Gnosall Community Links
Stockton on Tees12,000Bus Facilities at Yarm Station
Suffolk305,122Wheels Within Wheels
Telford and Wrekin174,000Rural Transport Links--The Wrekin Rider
Torbay142,990South Devon Hospital Hopper Bus
Tyne and Wear361,550Transpods
Warrington60,000Car Share Co-ordinator
Warwickshire155,088Flexi Bus Routes
West Berkshire75,700Taxi-Bus
West Sussex218,000Demanding Public Transport
West Yorkshire208,928Denby Dale
Wiltshire642,450Trans-Wilts Express
453,160Royal United Hospital Demand Responsive Taxi-Bus Service
Worcestershire404,049Route Enhancement: Service 382
36,500Bus Passenger Escort Scheme
58 Schemes16,778,950

Next Section Index Home Page