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Ministerial Meetings

Mr. Rowlands: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the outcome of his recent meeting with the Portuguese Finance Minister. [107035]

Dawn Primarolo: The Chancellor met the Portuguese Finance Minister, Pina Moura, on 13 January 2000. Their discussion focused on the Portuguese Presidency programme, including the Lisbon Special European Council on employment, economic reform and social cohesion.

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Landfill Tax

Ms Squire: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much money has been raised from Landfill Tax, broken down by local authority areas in Scotland in each of the last three years. [106369]

Mr. Timms: As Landfill Tax declared by operators is not allocated to specific sites we cannot provide receipts broken down by local authority areas.

Receipts from operators based in Scotland are estimated at £26 million in 1998-99, £33 million in 1997-98 and £11 million in the part year 1996-97, following the introduction of Landfill Tax on 1 October 1996; all figures are net of contributions to the environmental credit scheme.

EU Structural Funds

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what derogations he has (a) sought and (b) secured from the European Commission with regard to the application of the principle of additionality, to allow Her Majesty's Treasury to receive structural funds from the EU, designated for specific regions, without having to pass on those funds to the relevant regions. [107016]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government have neither sought nor secured derogations from the European Commission in respect of the application of the principle of additionality.

Asset Sales

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what directions for Government Departments and local authorities to sell surplus state assets he issued (a) prior to 18 October 1999 and (b) subsequently; and if he will make a statement. [107153]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government have put in place a number of incentives to ensure public sector assets are managed efficiently. The National Asset Register was published in November 1997, setting out for the first time the assets held by central Government. New incentives to dispose of surplus assets were introduced from 1 April 1998, which allow Departments to recycle receipts from disposals to be reinvested in public sector assets.

As part of the Comprehensive Spending Review Departments prepared investment strategies, which were published in March 1999, setting out plans for new investment, improved asset utilisation and procedures and systems to ensure value for money. As part of the move to resource accounting and budgeting, Departments are currently producing balance sheets which will show the full value of their asset holdings and budgets that include the cost of capital consumption in the form of a capital charge. Local authorities are currently producing investment overviews across their estate which build upon their ongoing work drawing-up asset management plans.

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he has taken to ensure that the sale of surplus assets will not result in the loss of playing fields. [107173]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government have put in place a number of measures to protect playing fields. The Department for Education and Employment have

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introduced new legislation to require all state schools to seek consent for the disposal of playing fields, which includes consultation with community and user groups. The Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions have published a Direction enabling Ministers to consider planning applications concerning local authority playing fields and those used by educational establishment where Sport England have objected to the proposals.

Sport England also remains statutory consultee on all playing field planning applications and ask local authority planning policies to permit development on playing fields only where it can be demonstrated that there is a proven excess of provision. Finally, Lottery funding of £125 million will be devoted to a new green space initiative, including the creation of new playing fields.

ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS

Local Government Finance (London)

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what proposals he has for the budgets of the Greater London Authority, Transport for London, the London Development Agency, the Metropolitan Police Authority and the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority for 2000-01 and for the Greater London Authority's precepts for that year. [107724]

Mr. Hill: I have today issued a consultation paper setting out my proposals to the London boroughs, the ALG, representatives of industry and commerce, predecessor bodies and other interested parties. Subject to consultation, it is proposed to set a consolidated budget requirement for the GLA and functional bodies for 2000-01 of £2,179 million. We estimate that this will support total spending of some £3,600 million. Of this only £333 million will need to be raised from council taxpayers. For a Band D council taxpayer, this is equivalent to about £123 a year in the London Boroughs and £32 a year in the City.

Just £1.70 of this is to fund the additional cost of the new GLA services: about 3 pence a week for a Band D council taxpayer as promised in the White Paper "A Mayor and Assembly for London" (March 1998, Cm 3897). Nearly three-quarters of the council tax goes to fund the Metropolitan police. Since the Metropolitan police district does not include the City, this accounts for the lower cost borne by City council taxpayers.

From 2001-02 onwards the consolidated budget for the GLA and functional bodies will be set by the Mayor.

Rent Levels

Mr. Portillo: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the impact on rent levels of the Court of Appeal's decision in the case of Spath Holme Ltd. vs. Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions; and if he will make a statement on the impact of the judgment on his Department's policies. [107183]

Mr. Raynsford: The Court of Appeal's decision to quash the Rent Acts (Maximum Fair Rent) Order 1999 is likely to lead to significant increases in fair rents which would have been capped under the Order.

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We are giving careful consideration to the implications of the judgment. We remain committed to protecting tenants from excessive increases in fair rents.

Regeneration (Birmingham)

Mr. Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he expects to make an announcement on the Arena Central Regeneration Project in Birmingham. [106978]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Government have set a target for deciding called-in planning applications within 13 weeks of receipt of the Inspector's Report following the local inquiry. In this case the primary target for decision was 4 January 2000. Although the Secretary of State has not been able to complete his consideration of all the issues raised by this proposal within the primary target, the Government do fully recognise the importance of speedy decisions for the local economy. I therefore expect to be able to issue a decision within the secondary target of 22 February.

Sutton Railway Station

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will ask the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority to investigate the cause of the delayed implementation of the refurbishment of Sutton Station by Connex and take steps with both Railtrack and the train operating company to expedite the project. [106852]

Mr. Hill: This is a matter which is primarily for the train operator and Railtrack to resolve. However, I have asked the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority to monitor the situation.

Green Belt

Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what was the total area of land within the established green belt in England on 1 January (a) 1976, (b) 1979, (c) 1982, (d) 1985, (e) 1988, (f) 1991, (g) 1994, (h) 1997 and (i) 2000. [106874]

Mr. Raynsford: Figures published in December 1999 show that green belt in England in 1997 amounted to 1,652,300 hectares of land. This estimate is based on a new analysis of information in local plans and is more reliable than previously published figures for earlier years, which have been shown to be inaccurate.

Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what was the total area of established green belt land given non-conforming use planning permissions in each of the past 20 years. [106875]

Mr. Raynsford: The information requested is not held centrally by the Department, and could not be obtained without disproportionate cost.


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