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Welded Vehicles

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is his estimate of the number of motor vehicles that were welded together and offered for resale during 1999; and if he will make a statement. [114494]

Mr. Hill: The information requested is not held centrally by the Department. Our aim is to ensure that all vehicles comply with prescribed roadworthiness standards and that the tools are there to see they are enforced. Through its oversight of the MOT testing regime the Vehicle Inspectorate enforces the relevant roadworthiness requirements. Local authority trading standards officials have powers to deal with unscrupulous traders who offer unroadworthy vehicles for sale. As must be the case, the

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best advice we can give is for buyers to arrange for an independent technical inspection of a vehicle and to obtain information on its background prior to purchase.

Rema (Sinking)

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what recommendations were made to him by the Marine Accident Investigation Board following the sinking of the Rema. [114525]

Mr. Hill: The Marine Accident Investigation Branch Report into the sinking of the Belize-registered MV Rema made one recommendation to this Department, addressed to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The Agency is recommended to advocate through the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the fitting of hold bilge alarms in all single hold vessels.

An identical recommendation was addressed to the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize (IMMARBE), therefore the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will be consulting IMMARBE and the United Kingdom marine industry for their views on how this recommendation should be supported and taken forward to the IMO.

The other four inspector's recommendations contained in the report are addressed to IMMARBE and propose measures to improve its safety record.

O Licences

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will increase the minimum deposit for the grant of an O licence from £5,000 to £20,000. [114518]

Mr. Hill: New European Union rules on the level of finances required by holders of international operator licences came into effect in this country for new applications in October 1999. Existing operators have until October 2001 to meet the new requirements. They require an amount equal to or exceeding 9,000 euro for the first or only vehicle authorised under the operator's licence and 5,000 euro for each additional vehicle. This represents a significant increase over the previous financial requirements. Traffic Commissioners assess the level of financial resources required by domestic operators as a proportion of these figures. For standard national licences this is normally some 80 per cent. of the figure set for an international operator's licence and about 50 per cent. for Restricted licences. We are planning to carry out a consultation exercise seeking views on whether these remain appropriate levels of funding for domestic operators.

Rail Yards (Telephony Equipment)

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will issue guidelines identifying (a) the correct telephony equipment for use in railway freight yards and (b) suitable training courses for operatives. [114515]

Mr. Hill: There are no plans to issue guidelines identifying what communication equipment, including telephone equipment, should be used in railway freight yards.

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The provision of communication equipment, including telephones, and the suitable training of staff in its use, is a matter for the train operating companies.

Greater London (Select Committee Report)

Ms Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what steps are being taken to prepare a response to the recommendation in the Twentieth Report of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, Session 1998-99 (HC 477), about Greater London; [114561]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Government's Response was published in January 2000 (Cmnd 4550). It identified a number of recommendations to be considered further in the White Paper on urban policy. The White Paper will set out policies and proposals for improving the quality of life in our towns and cities. An important part of this will be our proposals for improving the management of the public realm, including our parks and open spaces.

Parks and open spaces are important to the quality of life in all our towns, cities and conurbations. The proposals set out in our Response and being developed in the White Paper are for national application.

Green and Open Spaces

Ms Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what mechanisms exist to ensure that initiatives across London which affect green and open spaces and the public funds invested in them can be co-ordinated. [114560]

Ms Beverley Hughes: A large proportion of the open space surrounding the built up area of London is designated as Green Belt or Metropolitan Open Land. As such it enjoys a high degree of protection from development, through existing national planning guidance and local planning policies. In addition, Strategic Guidance for London Planning Authorities (RPG3) issued in 1996 urges local planning authorities to encourage the maintenance and support of agriculture as a major economic activity in the Green Belt.

The new Mayor of London will be required to produce a number of important strategies including a spatial development strategy, a number of environmental strategies and biodiversity action plan. Each of the strategies should be consistent with the others. Together, these strategies will enable the Mayor to devise an holistic approach to the protection and enhancement of green and open spaces of strategic importance in London.

Ms Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what hectarage of green and open space land open to the public is (i) owned and (ii) managed by the (a) Corporation of London, (b) Royal Parks Agency, (c) Lee Valley Regional Park, (d) London boroughs, (e) English Heritage and (f) other agencies. [114558]

Ms Beverley Hughes: This information is not held centrally.

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Ms Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how much public funding was spent within the boundary of the M25 on (1) management and maintenance and (2) the development, conservation and restoration of public and open spaces, parks, gardens and estates by (a) the Corporation of London, (b) the Royal Parks Agency, (c) the Lee Valley Regional Park, (d) the Heritage Lottery Fund, (e) the London boroughs, (f) English Heritage and (g) other agencies and by way of (i) grants made available via the Government Office for London for Single Regeneration Budget or related green space projects, (ii) ESF Objective 2 grants related to green space enhancement and (iii) grants made by London TECs for country green space development projects in the last 12 months. [114559]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The information requested in respect of the Corporation of London, the Lee Valley Regional Park, the London boroughs and other agencies is currently not available centrally in the form, and for the geographical area requested. I am however able to say that the estimated net current expenditure of the London boroughs and the City of London on managing and maintaining parks and open spaces totals £100,896,000 for 1999-2000.

Responsibility for the Royal Parks Agency, Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage falls to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. My right hon. Friend informs me that the information requested in respect of the Heritage Lottery Fund is not currently available for the geographical area requested. The total grant paid to the Royal Parks Agency for 1999-2000 is £26.389 million, which is currently not broken down in the form requested. The English Heritage budget for 1999-2000 for the management and maintenance of properties and land within their care is a total of £3,597,618. The budget for development and conservation projects on English Heritage owned properties for 1999-2000 is £539,500.

No grants have been offered to third parties for management of open space, parks, or gardens in the last 12 months by English Heritage. However, London Region has commissioned a management plan to advise on proposals for College Farm at a cost of £15,000, and English Heritage contributed £37,000 to the Thames Landscape Strategy in 1999-2000.

Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will conduct a review of sections 92 and 122 of the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984, with particular reference to compatibility between those two sections and the personal injuries and damage to vehicles caused by rising bollards. [114795]

Mr. Hill: We have no plans to conduct such a review. Section 122 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 places a duty on local traffic authorities to exercise their functions under the Act so as to secure the expeditious, convenient and safe movement of traffic, so far as practicable having regard to certain matters such as amenity and need for access to premises. This includes the exercise of their power under section 92 to place bollards to prevent vehicles from using roads from which

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they are prohibited. It is the responsibility of individual traffic authorities to ensure that they exercise their road traffic regulation functions in a manner that is compatible with their statutory duty under section 122.

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