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Mr. Hill: In December 1999, Freightliner Ltd. lodged an application with the Department's Freight Grants Unit for track access and freight facilities grants, to take effect on the expiry of the existing grant arrangements in May 2001. PricewaterhouseCoopers were appointed jointly by the Department and the shadow Strategic Rail Authority to advise on the application, and their report was received
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Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement about his plans to replace the CORGI registration system for gas installers. 
Mr. Meacher: There are no such plans. The Health and Safety Commission is currently carrying out a review of the gas safety regime, and is likely to report to Ministers within the next few months with its conclusions and recommendations. One of the issues being examined in the review is whether the statutory registration scheme for gas installation businesses is still appropriate. The Commission has not yet formed a view on that question.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he will reply to the compensation claim submitted to his Department by Mr. Paul Reeman, of Beverly Court, Upton, Manor Road, Brixham, following the report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration dated 10 August 1999, regarding the certificate of seaworthiness for the fishing vessel 'Cornelis Johanna'. 
Mr. Hill: A significant interim payment was made to Mr. P. Reeman by the Department in November 1999, prior to the submission of a fully substantiated claim. The Treasury Solicitors' Department is considering carefully the detailed claim submitted by Mr. Reeman's solicitors on 22 May 2000, and will be responding to them very shortly.
Mr. Bradshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will publish the latest noise tests on the A30 Exeter to Honiton Road; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hill: I have published today the results of the tests. Copies of the report have been placed in the Library of both House. The report shows that noise levels are somewhat higher than expected. Our 10-year Transport Strategy which will be published shortly will include further proposals for dealing with road noise. One result will be that this stretch of the A30 will be resurfaced with a lower noise surface.
Mr. Raynsford: I am pleased to announce today the publication of the report of the Park Homes Working Party, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House. I would like to thank the members of the Working Party for the work they have done over the last two years to consider the operation of the control regime applying to the residential park homes
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sector. The Working Party has produced a large number of wide-ranging recommendations for changes to this regime.
The recommendations will need careful consideration, and it would be helpful therefore to have comments on them from interested bodies or individuals who have not already had a change to contribute to the report. I am requesting that any such comments are sent to my Department by 31 October. I will announce my conclusions on the recommendations in due course after that date.
Mr. Brady: To ask the President of the Council how many employees of her Department and its agencies have been recruited from the New Deal; and what percentage this represents of total staff. 
Mrs. Beckett: My Department has recruited one employee from the New Deal, who started work on 3 April 2000. The Department is small, with low recruitment requirements, and this represents 3 per cent. of the total staff.
Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 28 June 2000, Official Report, column 540W, on the knowledge economy, (1) what is the maximum distance or travelling time a member of the public can reside from a public internet access point under the definition of having access to the internet; and if he will make a statement; 
Mr. Andrew Smith: It is not so defined; the Government are considering the steps to improve access, bearing in mind the need for a practical approach, the underlying objective of convenient, affordable access to the internet, and taking into account a wide range of factors, including the developing market.
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targets for answering (a) named day questions, (b) ordinary written questions and (c) written questions tabled in the House of Lords; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: The targets are to answer (a) 50 per cent. of named day questions on the nominated day; (b) 70 per cent. of ordinary written questions within a working week of tabling; and (c) 80 per cent. of House of Lords written questions within a fortnight of tabling.
The review has confirmed that ill-health retirement should be available to employees who are genuinely unable to remain in employment for health reasons. But it has found that the present levels of ill-health retirement in the public sector are higher than necessary and higher than in the private sector. Variations in rates between individual sectors, and between employers in the same sector, are also significant indicating that there is scope to bring rates down.
The review concluded that the rules and procedures governing the granting of ill-health retirements need to be tightened in a number of cases, and that action is needed to prevent its misuse and to expose the cost involved. It also concluded that many employers can help to reduce the number of such retirements by adopting best practice on workplace health.
The report sets out 36 recommendations for reducing the incidence of ill-health retirement across the public sector. Departments will draw up action plans for each sector implementing these recommendations. Targets will be set challenging individual employers with the highest rates to reduce these to match those of the best in their sector by 2005.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what VAT revenue from petrol and diesel sales was anticipated for 2000-01 at the time of the Budget; and what his current forecast is of the yield. 
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many new National Insurance numbers were awarded to (a) children and (b) adults in each year since 1990, broken down into geographical regions. 
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|Calendar year||Numbers allocated|
|1992 (from May)||8,424,054|
|2000 (to June)||347,497|
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