2 May 2000 : Column: 1W

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 2 May 2000


Marriage Counsellors

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many marriage counsellors funded (a) partly and (b) wholly by the Government, there were in the UK in (i) 1970, (ii) 1980 and (iii) 1999; and what was the cost. [120660]

Jane Kennedy: In the financial year 1999-2000 the Lord Chancellor's Department spent £3.2 million on marriage and relationship support. Grant-in-aid is given to the central bodies of the main marriage support and research organisations towards expenses incurred in the development of training and support to local services, including the selection, training and supervision of counsellors, and administrative costs.

In line with Sir Graham Hart's recommendations in his report on Marriage Support Funding (November 1999), the allocation is being increased to £4 million in 2001-01; £4.5 million in 2002-02; and £5 million in 2002-03. Figures for 1970 and 1980 are not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


EU Withdrawal

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor-General, pursuant to his oral answer of 13 April 2000, Official Report, column 498, what was the basis of his statement concerning the policy of the organisation Conservatives Against a Federal Europe toward withdrawal from the EU. [119836]

The Solicitor-General: I understand that until recently the CAFE website stated that if certain ends were not achieved by negotiations, quite unrealistic in my opinion, the UK must withdraw from the EU.




Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the extent to which the site ion exchange extraction and the enhanced altinide removal waste filtration plants servicing the thermal oxide reprocessing plant facility at Sellafield have met their planned operational functions. [119134]

2 May 2000 : Column: 2W

Mr. Meacher: The Environment Agency monitors and assesses the performance of the various effluent treatment plant on the Sellafield site including the site ion exchange extraction plant (SIXEP) and the enhanced actinide removal plant (EARP).

During 1998 the Environment Agency report concluded that the Enhanced Actinide Removal Plant (EARP) performed satisfactorily in the removal of plutonium and other actinides from liquid effluent streams. In addition, the report considered that the plant has been reasonably effective for the removal of strontium-90 (Sr-90) and caesium-137 (Cs-137). The Agency considers there is scope for optimising the performance of EARP in line with the best practicable means. The Agency will continue to press for improvements in the effectiveness of EARP in reducing radionuclide discharges.

The Agency also judges that the Site Ion Exchange Plant (SIXEP) has continued to operate satisfactorily in 1998 and has achieved high efficiencies for the removal of both Sr-90 and Cs-137 from the fuel storage pond effluents. The Agency notes that BNFL has made progress in the research and development programme for the optimisation of SIXEP.

Electrical Goods

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to phase out stand-by systems on electrical goods. [119288]

Mr. Meacher: The approach which the Government have followed, with other EU countries, is not to prevent the inclusion of stand-by systems in such products. In future, more equipment will communicate automatically with other equipment, users and service providers, and this will involve stand-by systems. Therefore, our approach is to ensure that these features incorporate good energy efficiency technology and do not encourage waste. We have been supporting EU initiatives in this field, which recently led to an agreement with manufacturers to reduce stand-by power consumption of new televisions and video cassette recorders. Further initiatives are in hand to reduce stand-by energy consumption in the fast growing areas of "set-up boxes" and power supply packs.

Birth Certificates

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions for what purposes his Department requires a birth certificate to be furnished by (a) employees, (b) contractors, (c) those applying for employment and contracts and (d) other persons. [120320]

Ms Beverley Hughes: A birth certificate or similar documentary evidence may be required for one or more of the following reasons:

In addition to the purposes listed, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency requires applicants for their first photocard driving licences to produce either a birth certificate or a passport in support of their application.

2 May 2000 : Column: 3W

Deprivation (Funding)

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what funding sources are available to small pockets of deprivation outside the inner cities. [120124]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) is the main source of government funding for tackling the most deprived areas in England, regardless of whether or not they are in inner-city areas, amounting to some £679 million in 1999-2000. However, 20 per cent. of the SRB resources goes to significant pockets of deprivation in areas which are not in the most deprived areas, such as rural areas, market towns, the former coalfield areas and coastal towns.

In addition, substantial amounts of European Structural Funds will be available for the period 2000-06 amounting to £1,867 million for Objective 1 areas and £2,370 million for Objective 2 areas. A wide range of Government funding is also available, both as match funding and more generally, and this is set out in the DTI booklet, "Match Funding for European Structural Funds", published in March 2000.

Waste Management

Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the Government's strategy for waste management. [120089]

Mr. Meacher: The Government published "A Way With Waste", the draft waste strategy for England and Wales, in June 1999. The draft strategy described the need for substantial changes in the way we manage our waste, and the range of actions needed to deliver that change. We will publish the final version shortly.

Seat Belts

Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what action he is taking to encourage the fitting of seat belts on minibuses and coaches; and if he will make a statement. [120261]

Mr. Hill: Since 1998, all minibuses and coaches used to carry groups of three or more children on organised trips, including home to school transport, have been required to have seat belts fitted. The DETR is currently conducting a public consultation exercise on draft regulations which will require seat belts to be fitted to all new minibuses, coaches and buses which do not carry standing passengers. I understand that many minibus and coach manufacturers are already fitting seat belts as standard equipment to their new vehicles.

Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is the Government's policy on the introduction of compulsory wearing of seat belts on minibuses and coaches transporting children; and if he will make a statement. [120262]

Mr. Hill: All minibuses and coaches carrying children on organised trips must provide a forward facing seat and a lap belt as a minimum. On minibuses with an unladen weight of 2,540 kgs or less, the law already requires that seat belts be worn where fitted.

2 May 2000 : Column: 4W

The Government currently have no plans to introduce compulsory seat belt wearing in minibuses above 2,540 kgs unladen weight and in coaches transporting children. The Government recognise the attractions of such a step but problems arise over enforcement and the legal liability of a driver in respect of children under 14. Moreover, the police would not be able easily to enforce seat belt wearing regulations in such large vehicles. Nevertheless, we are keeping this matter under review.

Road Maintenance

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will publish the results from each local highway authority that were used in the 1998 National Road Maintenance Condition Survey. [120734]

Mr. Hill: The National Road Maintenance Condition Survey is designed to produce estimates at the national level but not at the individual local authority level. Accordingly information is collected from local highway authorities on the basis that it is for statistical purposes only and will not be published by the DETR in an identifiable form.

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the results of the 1999 National Road Maintenance Condition Survey will be published. [120733]

Mr. Hill: The Report was published on 26 April (this was the publication date announced in "National Statistics Update" on 29 February). Copies of the Report are available in the House of Commons Library.

Next Section Index Home Page