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Mr. Hill: We have made more resources available to authorities to implement their integrated transport strategies, with an increase of 20 per cent. over last year. The requirement to produce Local Transport Plans and Regional Transport Strategies will ensure that authorities work together towards meeting transport need such as improving transport links to seaside towns. Investment in the trunk road network, through the Targeted Programme of Improvements, will also in a number of cases improve such links.
Mr. Hill: The level of subsidy for each year of the existing rail franchises including those which cover regional railways--is published in the Franchising Director's Annual Report (copies are available in the House Libraries). The Franchising Director has recently announced proposals to change the franchise map of Great Britain (copies of his Press Release are available in the House Libraries). That will lead to some adjustment of contracted subsidies.
32. Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on prospects for the use of the canal network for (a) urban and (b) rural regeneration. 
Mr. Hill: Our policy paper "Waterways for Tomorrow", published on 27 June, describes how our inland waterways can make a significant contribution to tackling social exclusion and deprivation by acting as a catalyst for economic and social renewal. Improving and restoring our waterways, and redeveloping disused and derelict waterside land can help deliver the Government's target for development on brownfield sites as well as creating jobs and business opportunities.
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Mr. Hill: The Government keep under review the impact of fuel taxation on all sectors of UK industry, including the road haulage industry. Budget 2000 itself contained an important package of measures specifically to further boost the competitiveness of the road haulage industry. These included £45 million of cuts to Vehicle Excise Duty; the introduction of 44-tonne lorries; and tougher enforcement to tackle illegally operating hauliers and protect the competitiveness of legitimate operators. The Road Haulage Forum chaired by Lord Macdonald is also continuing to consider the competitive pressures facing the industry.
Mr. Raynsford: Having experienced a recession in the early 1990s, the UK construction industry is now showing clear signs of steady growth. Output has risen by about 2.5 per cent. in real terms between the last two financial years, and that level of growth is forecast to continue at least until 2002.
35. Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the levels of public investment he plans to make available to improve the council housing stock. 
Mr. Raynsford: The level of allocations for housing investment by local authorities for the next three years will be decided in the current spending review, the results of which are due to be announced later this month.
36. Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received from (a) SERPLAN and (b) councillors from the south-east region concerning development in the south-east. 
Mr. Raynsford: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has received SERPLAN's response and also over 800 other responses, including representations from local authorities. All responses are now being considered.
37. Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received from councils concerning the abolition of the committee system in local government. 
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Ms Armstrong: We have received a wide range of comments in response to the various consultations we have conducted about councils' executive constitutions, for which the Local Government Bill [Lords], now passed by this House, provides.
Mr. Meacher: The Government set out their policy position on HFCs in the draft climate change programme, which was published for consultation earlier this year. This included a series of possible measures which could be taken to reduce emissions of HFCs. The consultation has now ended and we will be developing these measures further taking account of the points raised during the consultation.
39. Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the Government's energy policy and its impact on the road haulage industry. 
Mr. Hill: The Government are determined to encourage energy conservation and efficiency across all sectors of the economy, as part of our strategy to tackle climate change and improve the competitiveness of UK industry. In the road haulage sector, we are committed to improving the efficiency of freight transport and logistic operations, and set out last year how we would achieve this in our Sustainable Distribution Strategy. The strategy sets out a wide range of measures, including, for instance, the dissemination of advice to hauliers through my Department's Energy Efficiency Best Practice Programme about ways of reducing fuel costs.
Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received in relation to the harmonisation of VAT between new build and repair in connection with the forthcoming urban and rural White Papers. 
Mr. Raynsford: Lord Rogers's Urban Taskforce recommended that we should harmonise VAT on new build and repair and maintenance. Our Urban and White Papers will take forward the Government's response to Lord Rogers's recommendations, although final decisions on taxation will be for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor.
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The operators of incineration plant are required by section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to provide sufficient information to those managing waste ash to ensure that is it disposed of appropriately, for example chemical and physical information. They are also required to ensure that ashes which contain hazardous substances above certain thresholds are disposed of in accordance with the Special Waste Regulations 1996 (as amended).
Data from these incinerators indicate that the processed ash entering the construction market has dioxin concentrations of between 20 to 50 ng/kg toxic equivalent, which falls within the range observed in urban soils.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list the statutory consultees for the Environment Agency's consultation on the re-authorisation of the radioactive discharges from Aldermaston; and if he will place copies of submissions by (a) statutory consultees and (b) other parties in the Library. 
Mr. Meacher: The statutory consultees for the re- authorisation of the Aldermaston discharges are MAFF, HSE (NII), Thames Water, West Berkshire council and Reading borough council. The Environment Agency has provided copies of their responses to my Department and copies are being placed in the Library.
Approximately 4,000 responses were received by the Agency. These responses are summarised, and some of them are quoted with the consent of the consultees concerned, in the Agency's decision document. I am arranging for copies of that document to be placed in the Library shortly.
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