|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) who will have responsibility and over what timescale for taking forward the proposals on Crossrail contained in his Department's 10 year transport plan; and if he will make a statement; 
25 Jul 2000 : Column: 590W
Mr. Hill: The Government's 10 Year Transport Plan announced last week by the Deputy Prime Minister envisages that an east-west rail link will go ahead. The shadow Strategic Rail Authority is currently undertaking a review of the possible east-west cross-London links and expects to report its findings to Ministers by the end of the year. Crossrail is one option for providing through services which will be considered and funding for preparatory work for an east-west rail link, such as Crossrail, was included in London's settlement under the spending review announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor last week. The Mayor will wish to consider Crossrail in the light of his priorities for an integrated transport strategy for London. A number of options exist for the westerly connections to the Crossrail option, including the Chiltern lines.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions who will be responsible for taking forward the capacity enhancements on the Chiltern line mentioned on page 47 of his Department's 10-year transport plan; what works will be included in these enhancements; over what timescale this will be; at what cost to public funds; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hill: The Chiltern franchise is one which the Franchising Director is currently re-negotiating and a decision surrounding a preferred bidder is expected shortly. When this decision is announced, the shadow Strategic Rail Authority will be in a position to provide capacity enhancement details on the Chiltern lines which have been developed as a part of the bidding process.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what his policy is towards Central Railway plc in the context of his Department's 10-year transport plan. 
Mr. Hill: The Government cannot comment on the proposals that are being developed by Central Railway plc, as I understand they may in due course be the subject of a Transport and Works Act application.
Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 2 May 2000, Official Report, columns 3-4W, on seat belts, what plans he has to publish the results of the public consultation exercise, being conducted by his Department, on draft regulations to require seat belts to be fitted to minibuses, coaches and buses which do not carry standing passengers. 
Mr. Hill: Copies of the responses to the consultation exercise have been placed in the library of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions where they can be viewed by appointment. A list of respondents has also been placed in the House Library. We plan to
25 Jul 2000 : Column: 591W
write to all the respondents when the regulations are published, explaining changes made following the consultation.
Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what recent representations he has received about the provision of seat belts in buses carrying more than 16 passengers seats but incapable of exceeding 60 mph when they are used for school trips. 
Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what grants are available in the UK to enable coach operators to fit seat belts in minibuses, coaches and buses used in transporting children to and from school; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hill: We are not aware of any grants available specifically for this purpose. The majority of existing minibuses and coaches will already be equipped with seat belts, and we estimate that over 95 per cent. of new minibuses and coaches are now fitted with seat belts at the time of manufacture.
Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what end use or uses are planned for the 250 hectares of GM herbicide- tolerant maize being produced annually in UK field trials. 
The GM maize does not currently have all the necessary approvals to enter the UK food or feed chain. Therefore, the GM maize (and the all of the other GM crops) being grown in this year's farm scale evaluations programme will be destroyed.
Should the GM maize receive full clearance for food or feed safety during the farm scale evaluations period, the resulting produce will be utilised within identity- preserved channels which will ensure that consumer choice can at all times be respected.
Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the recent deliberations of the informal gathering of Environmental Ministers on GMOs in Paris. 
Mr. Meacher: I represented the United Kingdom at an informal meeting of EU Environment Ministers in Paris between 14 and 16 July. On 14 July, the Presidency facilitated a discussion on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) whose purpose was to look at wider issues outside the strict framework of the current revision to Directive 90/220 on the deliberate release of GMOs to the environment.
25 Jul 2000 : Column: 592W
and the European Parliament on the revised Directive 90/220 and to ensure that the Directive is implemented in a framework which takes account of wider issues such as labelling, traceability and liability.
The Commission indicated that it would present new proposals on labelling and traceability of GMOs and GMO products in the autumn. It also undertook to work with member states to ensure that decisions under Directive 90/220 can be taken in a way which respects both legal obligations and the need to provide a high level of protection for consumers and the environment.
Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on his Department's policy on varying the Cranford agreement at Heathrow to create more slots for fragile routes in the UK. 
Mr. Mullin: My Department is currently undertaking a study into all aspects of airport capacity in South East England, having regard to future forecasts of demand. This is looking at a wide range of options: at this stage, nothing is ruled in and nothing is ruled out. However, there are currently no plans to modify the Cranford agreement.
Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on his Department's role in the creation of public service obligations on internal UK air routes between Heathrow and fragile rural locations. 
Mr. Mullin: The use of public service obligations (PSOs) is governed by European Regulation 2408/92. This empowers member states to impose a PSO on a route serving a peripheral or development region or on a thin route to any regional airport, where such a route is considered vital for the economic development of the region in which the airport is located, and where an adequate standard of service would not be provided by air carriers having regard solely to their commercial interest. Those standards relate to the continuity, regularity, capacity and pricing of services.
The UK Government have imposed PSOs on certain lifeline routes serving the Scottish Highlands and Islands. There are no PSOs on routes to London. A judgment in the European Court of Justice suggests that any PSO would have to be city to city, and not airport specific.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many tenants in local authority and housing association accommodation are lone parents; what proportion of the total they constitute; and what proportion of new tenancies in the past year have been given to lone parents. 
25 Jul 2000 : Column: 593W
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|