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Alcohol and Tobacco Fraud Review

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which recommendations of the Alcohol and Tobacco Fraud Review have not been fully implemented. [135877]

Dawn Primarolo: Sixty-four of the recommendations have been implemented, including 14 which have been implemented by other means than that directly envisaged in the report, and three of which have been implemented in part; four will not be progressed and work is continuing on a further 23. A schedule reporting progress on each of the recommendations has been placed in the Library of the House.



De-trunking Programme

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what additional resources the Government will allocate to local authorities from 2003 following the Government's de-trunking programme. [136428]

Mr. Hill: De-trunking of non-core routes will be phased over a number of years with the first significant transfers taking place in 2001-02. We are committed to ensuring a fair transfer of resources from the Highways Agency to local authorities, which will take on responsibility for de-trunked roads. Arrangements have been agreed with the Local Government Association for ensuring such a transfer takes place. This will involve the making of special grants for routine maintenance and issue of supplementary credit approvals for capital maintenance when the roads are actually transferred. These arrangements will operate pending the outcome of the review of local government finance for which options were set out in our green paper "Modernising Local Government Finance" published on 19 September.

Street Lighting

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what estimate he has made of the number and percentage of street lighting columns that are unsafe and require replacement within the next 12 months. [136426]

Mr. Hill: DETR are aware that, of the 5 million street lighting columns in England, 27 per cent. (1.3 million) are more than 30 years old now. However, the Department does not currently have sufficient information to determine the number of columns which are unsafe.

9 Nov 2000 : Column: 344W

Local authorities have agreed that a national condition survey for street lighting should be introduced, and that information from this should be used to compile a national inventory. Progress on this is still at an early stage although local authority representatives have agreed to submit proposals to DETR.

The Highways Agency consider that current funding levels are sufficient to allow them to maintain the condition of the trunk road network at a level where there is no backlog of maintenance (either for structural maintenance or for street lighting).

Road Noise (A5)

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he expects the A5 at Wibtoft on the Warwickshire and Leicestershire border to be resurfaced to reduce traffic noise. [136284]

Mr. Hill: The A5 at Wibtoft was resurfaced about five years ago. I would not expect resurfacing to be required until around 2006. As announced previously, lower noise surfaces will be used for virtually all future surfacing work on trunk roads.

Flooding (Lewes)

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make available funds towards the repair of listed buildings and other buildings in the conservation area of Lewes affected by the recent flooding. [136569]

Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 6 November 2000]: Emergency financial assistance is available for local authorities under the Bellwin scheme to help with uninsurable clear-up costs following a disaster or emergency in their area which involves destruction of, or danger to, life or property.

Government compensation is not generally available to private household or businesses following storms and flooding. These are insurable risks, and successive Governments have taken the view that to underwrite insurable costs would remove any incentive for people to take out appropriate insurance cover and would penalise those who had acted prudently.

Bellwin schemes are intended to prevent an undue burden falling on local taxpayers as the result of local authorities taking immediate action to safeguard life or property, or to prevent suffering or severe inconvenience, in their area or among its inhabitants. Grant is normally paid at a rate of 85 per cent. on authorities' qualifying expenditure above a threshold but for the present emergency grant will be paid at 100 per cent. of amounts above the threshold. The threshold is the provision that a prudent authority might reasonably be expected to make for contingencies and emergencies (approximately 0.2 per cent. of its revenue budget).

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In the case of the recent flooding the following adaptations to the Bellwin scheme will apply:

Lewes District Council inquired about assistance under the Bellwin scheme the day following the initial floods. We are ready to trigger that assistance and officials await the detailed claim. We will consider all applications speedily and sympathetically against the criteria that apply in these circumstances.

Hatfield Derailment

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions for how long the Health and Safety Executive has required its buffet carriage to be left on the railway at Hatfield. [137204]

Mr. Hill: The Health and Safety Executive did not require the GNER buffet carriage to be left on the accident site at Hatfield. Inspectors gave instructions to Railtrack Ltd. on 19 October that the damaged carriage should be taken to Crewe for examination along with the other coaches and locomotive.

Deprivation Indices

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the index of deprivation by ward as it relates to (a) the West Midlands area and (b) Coventry, South; and what plans there are to address the inequalities highlighted. [136578]

Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 6 November 2000]: The Indices of Deprivation 2000 (ID2000) revises, extends and updates the 1998 Index of Local Deprivation. It is based on 33 ward level indicators of deprivation covering six domains: low income, employment deprivation, education and training deprivation, poor health and disability, poor housing and poor geographical access to services. Because it is based on ward level information it is more effective than previous indices in identifying pockets of deprivation across England and is a more effective means of targeting help at the most deprived areas. The indices show that there are 69 wards in the West Midlands in the 10 per cent. most deprived wards in England, of which five wards are in Coventry and two wards (St. Michael's and Binley and Willenhall) are in Coventry, South. The indices are considered to be the best means of measuring area deprivation currently, but will be kept under review and revised when significantly better information for small areas becomes available.

9 Nov 2000 : Column: 346W

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the recent deprivation indices produced by his Department, by ward. [136699]

Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 7 November 2000]: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to him earlier today, column 345W.

Damascus House

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the Government Office for London will make a decision on the planning application for Damascus House, Mill Hill. [136940]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Secretary of State's decision on whether he should call in the planning application for his own determination is at an advanced stage and will be issued shortly.

Oil Industry

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations his Department made to the Department of Trade and Industry regarding the recent decision to hold a new round of oil licensing. [137173]

Ms Beverley Hughes: My Department will be making representations in due course in response to the consultation paper issued by the Department of Trade and Industry on 25 October.

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