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Fuel Duty Rebate

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will extend the fuel duty rebate to electrically-operated vehicles which perform taxi duties. [131531]

Mr. Hill: Under current legislation operators of local bus services are rebated part of the duty they have paid on the fuel used in providing those services. We have no plans to pay fuel duty rebate to the operators of taxi services or to extend it so that it provides a grant to operators of vehicles to which fuel duty is not applicable.

The Commission for Integrated Transport is currently examining possible changes to the fuel duty rebate scheme as part of its study of all aspects of public funding for bus services. We will carefully consider the Commission's recommendations which are due later this year.

Regional Planning Guidance (South West)

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the public examination of the draft Regional Planning Guidance for the South West will be completed; when the Inspector's report on the draft Regional Planning Guidance for the South West will be issued; when the final Regional Planning Guidance for the South West will be issued for material consideration by planning authorities; and if he will make a statement. [131580]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Public Examination of the draft Regional Planning Guidance for the South West took place in March 2000. The report of the Panel for the Public Examination has not yet been received, but is expected shortly. Arrangements will be made for its publication on receipt of it. The Secretary of State's proposals for change to the draft Regional Planning Guidance will be made in the light of the Panel's report and recommendations, and other consultation comments received by the Panel in autumn 1999 but not addressed at the Public Examination. These proposals for change should be available for consultation in the autumn, and the final revised Regional Planning Guidance for the South West published early in 2001.

Birmingham Northern Relief Road

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the net present cost is of the Birmingham Northern Relief Road project under the Private Finance Initiative; what the value is of the public sector comparators in (a) pre-risk and (b) risk adjusted terms; what risks are identified as having been transferred; and if he will make a statement. [131585]

Mr. Hill: The Birmingham Northern Relief Road is to be built, financed, operated and maintained by the concessionaire Midland Expressway Ltd. at its own cost and risk and without recourse to Government Funds or to Government guarantees. A cost benefit analysis carried out in 1991 showed the scheme proposed by Midland Expressway having a benefit: cost ratio of more than 2:1.

20 Jul 2000 : Column: 260W


Mr. Quinn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the Government Response to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's 21 report (Setting Environmental Standards) will be published. [132371]

Mr. Meacher: The Government's Response to the Commission's Report on Setting Environmental Standards has been published today. I wish to express my thanks to the previous Chairman of the Commission, Sir John Houghton, the current Chairman, Sir Tom Blundell, and their colleagues for their continued commitment to issues which are of equal importance to the public as to the Government.

The Government are responding positively to many of the points made by the Commission in its report on Setting Environmental Standards;

The full Response will be available on the Department website ( and I am placing copies in the Library.

20 Jul 2000 : Column: 261W

Road Traffic Offences

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he plans to implement the proposal in his White Paper, entitled "Tomorrow's Roads, a Review of Penalties for Road Traffic Offences". [130304]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I have been asked to reply.

The work of the review of penalties for road traffic offences is almost complete. The Government hope to publish a consultation document, setting out the proposals of the review, shortly.


House of Lords

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister if he will break down the appointments to the House of Lords, by party affiliation, since 1 May 1997; and if he will make a statement. [123626]

The Prime Minister: The information requested is as follows:

Appointments to the House of Lords since 1 May 1997(1)

PartyNew life peerages(1)Hereditaries who became life peers on 2 November 1999(1)Law Lords
Lib. Dem.310--

(1) Appointment is taken to mean the date on which a peerage was publicly announced

(1) Includes the right hon. Member for Huntingdon's (Mr. Major) Resignation Honours (10 Conservative, announced on 2 August 1997), but not his Dissolution Honours which were announced before 1 May 1997

(1) Four Hereditaries of first creation who accepted life peerages and six Hereditaries who were former Leaders of the House

(1) Includes Baroness Lester, now deceased

The current position is that there are 233 Conservative peers, compared to 199 Labour peers and 63 Liberal Democrats. The remainder are 164 Crossbenchers, 26 archbishops and bishops and 10 others.

From 1979 to 1997 the last Conservative Government created 365 peers (excluding Law Lords). Despite retaining an almost 4 to 1 advantage over Labour in the House of Lords the number of Conservative peers created was nearly double that of Labour peers. The party breakdown of these was as follows: Conservative 173, Labour 96, Liberal/SDP/Liberal Democrats 27 and Independent/Crossbencher 69.


Serious Fraud Office

Helen Jones: To ask the Solicitor-General when the Director of the Serious Fraud Office intends to publish her annual report. [132237]

20 Jul 2000 : Column: 262W

The Solicitor-General: I can confirm that I have today placed copies of the annual report in the Libraries of the House.

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