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Bus Services

Mr. Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what was the level of funding for rural bus subsidies in each of the last 10 years. [105698]

Mr. Hill: No funding was specifically provided for the subsidy of rural bus services during the period 1989-90 to 1997-98, apart from £4 million in 1989-90 and £1 million in 1990-91 of residual spending on the transitional rural bus grant scheme under the Transport Act 1985.

New funding for the support of rural buses was introduced by this Government in 1998-99. In that year my Department paid a total of £25.7 million to English local authorities under the Rural Bus Subsidy Grant and Rural Bus Challenge schemes. I understand that allocations by the Welsh Office in 1998-99 to Welsh local authorities under the Bus Partnership Fund totalled £2.25 million.

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Mr. Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many bus passenger journeys there were in each of the last 10 years. [105697]

Mr. Hill: The figures up to 1998-99 are taken from table 2 of the Transport Statistics Bulletin, "A Bulletin of Public Transport Statistics: Great Britain 1999". Local bus passenger journeys made in Great Britain over the last decade are as summarised.

Local bus services: passenger journeys


Protection of Conservation Areas

Mr. Singh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps he intends to take to ensure sites submitted to the European Commission as candidate special areas of conservation under the Habitats Directive are given appropriate protection during delays in the adoption of such sites. [105976]

Mr. Meacher: I intend to bring forward Regulations which will extend the provisions of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 to candidate Special Areas of Conservation in England as soon as practicable. I am proposing to give these sites the same level of protection as would be available on sites which become Sites of Community Interest or is already available to sites classified as Special Protection Areas under the Birds Directive. This enhanced protection will ensure that the integrity of sites we have proposed as

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candidate Special Areas of Conservation is not adversely affected by, for example, damaging operations prior to their adoption by Europe.

Policy for such matters falls within the responsibilities of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Road Traffic Reduction

Ms Harman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he will publish the Government's first report under the Road Traffic Reduction (National Targets) Act 1998. [106040]

Mr. Hill: We have today laid before the House "Tackling Congestion and Pollution", our first report under this Act.

We agree with the Commission for Integrated Transport that we should not set a national road traffic reduction target. The national volume of road traffic is not a good measure of our success in improving the outcomes that matter, particularly congestion and pollution. Targets for air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, health and road safety are already in place or are shortly to be published. The report invites views on our proposal to develop new benchmarks and targets for congestion for different area or road types.

With widespread support from local authorities, businesses and the general public for the policies in the Integrated Transport White Paper and Transport Bill, we can also tackle congestion. The report shows that it should be possible to reduce congestion over the next decade, even when national traffic levels are rising.

The report shows that we can expect to see a reduction of more than half in the effect of traffic pollution on air quality over the next decade, mainly through better designed cars and fuels. We can also reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from road transport, though only to slightly below 1990 levels.

Council Tax

Mr. Cawsey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list the police authorities of England and Wales in order of their Band D council tax precept. [105181]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The information requested on Wales is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.

The information requested for England is shown in the following table.

Band D council tax precepts issued by English police authorities in 1999-2000

Police authority£
Avon and Somerset61
Greater Manchester60
West Mercia59
South Yorkshire57
Thames Valley57
West Yorkshire55
Devon and Cornwall54
North Yorkshire52
West Midlands51

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Millennium Celebrations

(Drug and Drink Offences)

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many arrests were made in central London during the millennium celebrations for suspected offences involving (a) alcohol, (b) heroin and (c) cannabis. [104916]

Mr. Boateng: The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis informs me that during the central London millennium celebrations the numbers of arrests for suspected offences were: (a) alcohol, 43; (b) heroin, nil; and, (c) cannabis, five.


Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to reply to the letters dated 21 September, 25 October and 9 December 1999 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Aftab Ahmed Butt. [105559]

Mrs. Roche: I am sorry my right hon. Friend has not received a reply to his letters. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has written to my right hon. Friend today.

Mike Tyson

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he made of the extent of potential financial hardship to British businesses and individuals of Mr. Mike Tyson not being granted entry to the United Kingdom; and what influence this had on his decision in this case. [105719]

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Mr. Straw: In reaching my decision about Mr. Tyson's application for entry to take part in a sporting contest in Manchester on 29 January I had regard not merely to the financial loss which might ensue for a number of companies and individuals should Mr. Tyson be refused entry, but also to the potentially ruinous consequences of such losses to smaller concerns in particular, all of whom had acted in good faith in the expectation that the contest would take place. Together with the general effect on business in the Manchester area and the inconvenience and disappointment of the many thousands who had bought tickets for the promotion this was a significant consideration in reaching my decision.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received, and from whom, about the case of Mr. Mike Tyson. [105716]

Mr. Straw: Following a letter from the United Kingdom Immigration Service dated 11 January, Mr. Frank Warren, promoter of the sporting event, made representations about the entry of Mr. Tyson. These representations enclosed others from various companies and individuals with a direct or indirect interest in the promotion. In addition, representations and comments from a number of sources have been received at the Home Office. These are being registered and will receive a reply in due course.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what were the grounds which influenced his decision in the case of Mr. Mike Tyson. [105713]

Mr. Straw: In the special circumstances of Mr. Tyson's case I considered that it would have been invidious for an individual immigration officer to have to weigh the competing considerations involved. I therefore decided, having carefully examined the representations submitted by Mr. Frank Warren, promoter of the sporting event, to issue an instruction to the Immigration Service that Mr. Tyson should be granted leave to enter until 30 January 2000 for the purpose of taking part in the scheduled contest.

I considered that there were exceptional circumstances which justified my decision. In particular I was mindful of the evidence of the likely effects on the small providers of ancillary services, some of which might have faced bankruptcy, had the promotion been cancelled as a consequence of Mr. Tyson being refused entry. I also had regard to the effect of cancellation on business in the Manchester area and to the great inconvenience and disappointment which many thousands of boxing fans who had purchased tickets would experience.

I weighed these factors against the nature and seriousness of Mr. Tyson's convictions, and I decided on balance that the exceptional circumstances of this case were such that Mr. Tyson should be granted leave to enter for the purpose of the match. This decision was entirely consistent with the Immigration Rules.

In reaching my decision I also took into account the fact that in practice the Immigration Rule relating to refusal of entry on the ground of criminal convictions had not been applied consistently in the past. This Rule and the way in which it is applied will now be reviewed.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what advice he gave to the Immigration Service about the case of Mr. Mike Tyson. [105717]

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Mr. Straw: Generally the decision as to whether a person is or is not given leave to enter the United Kingdom is one for the immigration officer to take, considering any relevant representations and advice. The Secretary of State for the Home Department has the power under paragraph 1(3) of Schedule 2 to give instructions to immigration officers. Once the content and sweep of the representations about Mr. Tyson's entry were known I decided that it would be invidious for the decision to be made by an individual immigration officer and that it was appropriate to give instructions on this particular case given its high profile and complexity. After careful consideration I instructed the Immigration Service to admit Mr. Tyson for the purpose of taking part in the sporting contest at Manchester on 29 January.

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