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Rent Acts (Maximum Fair Rent) Order 1999

Mr. Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions which Minister in his Department is taking lead responsibility for the proposals contained in the Rent Acts (Maximum Fair Rent) Order 1999. [121206]

Mr. Mullin: The Rent Acts (Maximum Fair Rents) Order 1999 was signed by my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning on the basis of a collective decision by Government.

Landlord and Tenant Act 1985

Mr. Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what external legal advice he has sought in respect of the use of his powers under section 31 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. [121207]

Mr. Mullin: The Treasury Solicitors Department has sought the best advice through the usual channels.

Sustainable Development

Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many meetings have been held at the Trade Union Sustainable Development Advisory Committee since its establishment; who attended them; what subjects were discussed; and if he will make a statement. [120419]

Mr. Meacher: Since the formation of the Trades Unions Sustainable Development Advisory Committee in July 1998 there have been six meetings. I have co-chaired them with John Edmonds, General Secretary of the GMB Union. They have been attended by representatives of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, the Engineers' and Managers' Association, GMB, the Graphical Paper and Media Union, the Institute of Professionals, Managers and Specialists, the Manufacturing Science Finance Union, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, the Transport and General Workers' Union, the Trades Union Congress, the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians, UNISON and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers. The Committee has discussed a wide range of sustainable development issues, including climate change, the employment effects of environmental policies, environmental issues in the workplace and workplace training on energy efficiency.

Montreal Protocol

Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is the extent of the United Kingdom's compliance to date with the terms of the Montreal Protocol; and when he expects full compliance to be achieved. [120421]

Mr. Meacher: The United Kingdom meets its substantive obligations under the Montreal Protocol (1987) through EC Regulation. The European Community

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and the UK have ratified the Protocol as well as its London (1990) and Copenhagen (1992) Amendments. In addition, they are bound by the adjustments to the Protocol adopted in London (1990), Copenhagen (1992), Vienna (1995) and Montreal (1997). The means by which the Community gives effect internally to all these obligation is EC Regulation 3093/94. Once a further EC Regulation, which is still under negotiation, enters into force later this year the Community and the UK will also be able to ratify the Montreal Amendment (1997).

Volatile Organic Compounds

Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what safety guidance is issued in respect of the storage or use of volatile organic compounds (a) in and (b) near NHS premises; and if he will make a statement. [120426]

Mr. Meacher: The Health and Safety Executive has issued no specific safety guidance on the storage or use of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in and near NHS premises.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires all employers to assess the risks to people's health and safety from the undertaking, which would include the storage or use of substances such as VOCs, and to take steps to minimise the risk.

Refrigerants

Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what guidance (a) his Department and (b) NHS Estates gives to health service bodies tendering for refrigeration equipment. [120418]

Mr. Meacher: The model framework for greening Government operations--which Government departments have been encouraged to adopt or adapt to meet their special circumstances--promotes environmentally preferable refrigerants having a zero or low potential for ozone depletion or global warming. I cannot answer for NHS Estates as responsibility here rests with the Secretary of State for Health. However, it is DETR's policy not to buy refrigerants containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and to avoid hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and other ozone-depleting substances where there are suitable alternatives. Our policy is also to favour technologies and refrigerants with little or no potential to contribute to global warming where they are safe, cost effective and practicable. Advice on environmentally preferable refrigerants is given in DETR's "Green Guide for Buyers"

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and other guidance which can be found on DETR's website. There are however circumstances--especially with retrofits--where currently available environmentally preferable technologies and refrigerants are not safe or are excessively costly. We are continuing to put pressure on our suppliers to develop more cost effective, safer and greener products.

Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what discussions he has had with fire safety experts about the implications of installing (a) hydrocarbon and (b) ammonia-based refrigeration as part of air conditioning systems in public places; and if he will make a statement. [120420]

Mr. Meacher: It is the responsibility of any person or company installing hydrocarbon or ammonia-based air conditioning equipment in a public place to ensure that all fire and safety issues are properly addressed. Such installations should follow the guidance set out in British Standard (BS 4434): "Specification for safety and environmental aspects in the design, construction and installation of refrigerating appliances and systems (1995)". The Health and Safety Executive were on the technical committee that drafted BS 443.

Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is his policy on the storage and use of (a) hydrocarbons, (b) HFCs and (c) ammonia in (i) refrigeration and (ii) air conditioning systems used by health service bodies. [120423]

Mr. Meacher: The Management of Heath and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require all employers, including health service bodies, to carry out an assessment of risks to people's health and safety form the undertaking, including the effects of hazardous substances. This would include an assessment of the risks from hydrocarbons, HFCs and ammonia used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is his estimate of the quantity of (a) HFC, (b) HCFC, (c) ammonia, (d) hydrocarbons and (e) CFCs in use in the UK in (i) refrigeration, (ii) air conditioning, (iii) aerosols, (iv) metered dose inhalers and (v) other applications. [R] [120429]

Mr. Meacher: The most recent estimates available are given in the table. Data on the use of ammonia and hydrocarbons in the air conditioning and refrigeration sectors are not available; however, their use is relatively minor. In addition, the majority of aerosols manufactured in the UK are filled with hydrocarbons, but data on the amounts used are not available.

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RefrigerationAir conditioningAerosolsMetered dose inhalersOther applications
HFCs7,6853,7661,02012123 (foam)
HCFCs13,5004,00000Not known
AmmoniaNot knownNot known00Not known
HydrocarbonsNot knownNot knownNot known0Not known
CFCs6,1502,05002,483Not known

Note:

Figures shown in metric tonnes


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SOCIAL SECURITY

Unclaimed Benefits

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the total value by benefit of unclaimed benefits for the latest 12 months for which figures are available. [119851]

Angela Eagle: The latest estimates were published in a Departmental press release dated 24 September 1999. I have placed a copy in the Library.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has also recently launched a substantial national take-up campaign for the Minimum Income Guarantee. The campaign will include;





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