Previous Section Index Home Page

Housing Rents

Mr. Pound: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will provide a breakdown by registered social landlord of the average rent paid by (a) existing tenants and (b) new tenants where large-scale voluntary transfers have taken place in each of the three years following transfer. [129066]

Mr. Raynsford: Information on average rents is collected by the Housing Corporation as part of their Regulatory Statistical Returns but information on average rents paid by transfer tenants and by new tenants is not collected separately. The Government have set out their proposals for rent harmonisation in the Housing Green Paper, "Quality and Choice: a decent home for all".

M42 Motorway Service Area Development

Mr. John M. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when a decision will be announced on the three motorway service area development applications on the M42 in Solihull. [128876]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Government have set a target for deciding 80 per cent. of planning appeals within eight weeks of receipt of the Inspector's report following the local inquiry. The inquiry into the appeals closed in June, and the Inspector has not yet submitted his report to the Secretary of State. At the inquiry the Inspector indicated his intention to submit his report by September.

European Habitats Directive

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on progress in the implementation of the European Habitats Directive. [128733]

Mr. Meacher: Last year, the Government submitted a list of 340 UK sites as candidate Special Areas of Conservation under the Habitats Directive. The UK site list was, like those of other member states, criticised as inadequate by the European Commission in the autumn of last year. As a result, the country nature conservation agencies, co-ordinated by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, have conducted a fundamental review of site selection. The advice arising from that review is currently being considered and I hope to be able to make an announcement on a revised site list soon.

Housing (Capital Improvements)

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the current year's investment is, for each London borough, per property, of capital improvements to (a) council and (b) housing association properties; and if he will make a statement. [129120]

6 Jul 2000 : Column: 262W

Mr. Raynsford [holding answer 5 July 2000]: The latest available outturn data for Registered social landlords (RSLs) relate to 1999-2000, and for local authorities to 1998-99. Figures for local authorities in 1999-2000 will become available in the autumn.

Figures for planned expenditure on existing stock by RSLs based on Approved Development Programme (ADP) allocations for 2000-01 are also available. Local authorities reported their planned spend for 2000-01 on the HIP Annual Plan returns last summer but these plans were drawn up before HIP allocations for the year had been decided.

Contaminated Brownfield Sites

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will challenge the European Commission ruling that member state grants to clear contaminated brownfield land violate EU regulations. [128399]

Ms Beverley Hughes: We have accepted the European Commission's ruling of 22 December 1999 that the Partnership Investment Programme breached the state aid rules, and closed the programme from that date. We are discussing with the Commission possible ways forward on joint public/private partnership working in regeneration.

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what percentage of brownfield sites in (a) England, (b) the South West and (c) Devon are classified by his Department as suffering from contamination preventing redevelopment. [128562]

Ms Beverley Hughes: Sites are not classified in the manner suggested. The potential impact of contamination on any development will depend significantly on the nature and design of the specific development. For example, a site which is "suitable" for development for commercial and retail uses may not be "suitable" for residential use without prior remediation.

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many contaminated brownfield sites identified for development (a) qualify for Government grants to aid decontamination and (b) will be affected by the European Commission's ruling on state aid for decontamination. [128563]

Ms Beverley Hughes: Under the former Partnership Investment Programme, it was the specific development proposal for any given site which may have been eligible for support, not the site itself. Data are not available in the form requested, as sites were not classified as eligible for funding support.

Dartford River Crossings

Mr. Geraint Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement about his plans for charging at the Dartford river crossings. [129910]

Mr. Hill: The current legislation authorising the collection of tolls at the Dartford river crossings is forecast to expire in June 2002. The cessation of tolling would be likely to have the effect of significantly increasing demand on the eastern sector of the M25 which would further

6 Jul 2000 : Column: 263W

increase the level of congestion at the crossings and elsewhere and have associated environmental and safety implications.

The Government are therefore minded to continue to charge for the use of the Dartford river crossings when the current legislation expires. Subject to the consent of Parliament we will consult next year on detailed proposals. Revenues from charging would be hypothecated for spending on transport.


Mr. Derek Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will provide financial assistance to Wear Valley District Council under the Bellwin Scheme in respect of costs incurred following flooding in the district on the weekend of 3 and 4 June. [129913]

Ms Beverley Hughes: I am satisfied that financial assistance under the Bellwin scheme is justified in the case of Wear Valley District Council given the exceptional nature of the flooding and the damage caused. A scheme will, therefore, be established under section 155 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. Grant will be paid to the authority to cover 85 per cent. of the eligible costs above a threshold, which it has incurred in dealing with the flooding.


GM Contamination

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he is taking to check if United Kingdom crops have been affected by GM contamination of French maize crops. [129915]

Mr. Nick Brown: Following reports in the French press last week that the French authorities had discovered low levels of GM presence in conventional maize seed imported into France, we contacted the French authorities, who confirmed on 30 June that they had indeed found some GM seed in conventional maize seed, which has been sown in South West France. Further information now indicates that they have found three different modifications in a number of varieties of forage maize imported into France by the company Golden Harvest. The French authorities have not yet confirmed which varieties of maize seed are involved, but have confirmed that sweetcorn varieties are not affected by their current investigations. We are seeking further information from them on the varieties concerned. However, as the varieties concerned are cultivated in Southern France, it is possible that they would be unsuitable for cultivation in UK conditions.

The GMs found in maize samples by the French authorities are BT 176 and BT 11, and one further, as yet unidentified, modification. BT 176 is insect resistant and has Part C consent within the EU under Directive 90/220 for import, food and feed use, and for cultivation. BT 11 is insect resistant and has Part C consent for import and use in animal feed. Pending further information from the French authorities, my Department, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and the Food

6 Jul 2000 : Column: 264W

Standards Agency are considering what the implications would be should further investigations indicate that affected seed may have been sown in the UK.


Departmental Vehicles

Mr. Pearson: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will list for his Department and its agencies the approved list of manufacturers of (a) cars and (b) commercial vehicles; and if he will make a statement on his Department's leasing and purchasing policy. [128992]

The Solicitor-General: The Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers and the Treasury Solicitor's Department make use of cars provided by the Government Car Service. I understand that the Cabinet Office will shortly give details of cars leased and purchased by the Government Car Service to my hon. Friend in a written answer.

The Crown Prosecution Service has a car and van leasing scheme. There is no purchase scheme. Under the leasing scheme, there are four approved manufacturers: Ford, Peugeot, Rover and Vauxhall. The Crown Prosecution Service ensures good value for money from its leasing scheme by seeking Competitive quotations for all new leases and, to take account of environmental considerations, there are limits on the size of engine capacities for leased vehicles.

The Serious Fraud Office neither leases nor has purchased cars or commercial vehicles, though it keeps this position under review.

Next Section Index Home Page