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Ultra-Low Sulphur Petrol

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the environmental effects of the large scale production of ultra-low sulphur petrol. [138230]

Mr. Hill [holding answer 13 November 2000]: Ultra-low sulphur petrol will have a direct benefit in reducing traffic related air pollutants. It will also facilitate the introduction of new fuel-efficient petrol engine technology. This emerging technology holds the promise of significant reductions in CO 2 emissions from the vehicle fleet and will help ensure delivery of the voluntary agreements with the car manufacturers to improve new car fuel efficiency by 25 per cent. by 2008.

The reduction of sulphur content of petrol from a maximum of 150 ppm to 50 ppm may result in increased energy consumption in oil refineries and hence CO 2 emissions, due to the additional processing required. The extent to which this is the case is dependent on the configuration of each individual refinery, and on other factors such as processing lower sulphur crude. The

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overall effect is, in the short term, likely to be an increase of less than 2 per cent. in the CO 2 emissions from refineries.

Ultra-low sulphur petrol will become mandatory throughout the EU from 2005 and the Government's CO 2 emission projections for 2010 already reflect the impact on refinery emissions of a reduction of sulphur levels in petrol.

As more vehicles are introduced onto the market, fuel efficiency improvement is expected to be larger than increases in refinery CO 2 emissions.

Environment Council (Brussels)

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what was the outcome of the Environment Council held in Brussels on 7 November; and if he will make a statement. [137763]

Mr. Meacher: The Deputy Prime Minister and I represented the UK at the Special Environment Council in Brussels on 7 November 2000.

The main purpose of this Council was to review the EU's negotiating positions in advance of the Sixth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP6), due to take place in the Hague later this month. Ministers discussed the EU's strategy, and exchanged views on possible options which may emerge in the course of the negotiations. Council Conclusions were agreed reaffirming the EU's negotiating position on the main issues--supplementarity, the clean development mechanism, and sinks. These also stressed the Council's commitment to achieving a successful outcome at COP6.

The Commission also reported on the progress of the European Climate Change Programme, noting that while the Community as a whole was achieving stabilisation of CO2 emissions, a number of member states were not. There was a brief exchange of views between member states.

Council Conclusions to guide the final round of international negotiations on the UNEP Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, to be held on 4-9 December 2000, were also taken without discussion.

Car Engines

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many motor cars are registered in the UK with engine sizes (a) above and (b) below 1500 cc; and how many miles were driven on average in each of the last five years in the UK by motor cars with engine sizes (i) above and (ii) below 1500 cc. [138441]

Mr. Hill: At the end of June 2000, the most recent date for which figures are available, there were 14,420,933 cars licensed in Great Britain with an engine size of greater than 1500 cc and 9,856,665 cars with an engine size of 1500 cc or less.

Average mileage of cars in Great Britain is estimated as part of the National Travel Survey. However, results are not available for individual years and are instead

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combined over three years to ensure a suitable level of accuracy. In the last five years, there has been little change in the average annual car mileage by engine size:

(i) The average annual distance recorded by cars of above 1,500cc was about 10,850 miles in 1997-99, compared to 11,610 miles in 1992-94.
(ii) For cars up to and including 1,500cc, the equivalent distances were 7,530 miles in 1997-99 and 7,580 miles in 1992-94.

Comparable data are not available for Northern Ireland.

EU Structural Funds (West Midlands)

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions on what date the Single Programming Document on aid to the West Midlands was successfully submitted to the European Commission. [138445]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Single Programming Document on aid to the West Midlands was presented to the Commission on 14 April 2000. It was confirmed as acceptable, with full retrospection of eligible spend back to 1 January 2000, in the Commission's letter of 4 May 2000 to the UK Permanent Representation to the European Union.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will report on progress in clearing proposed EU structural funds to the West Midlands with the European Commission. [138446]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The West Midlands region will receive Structural Fund moneys through a number of channels. The bulk of these will be delivered through the Objective 2 Single Programming Document. This document is still the subject of negotiation between the Government Office for the West Midlands and the European Commission.

It is difficult to predict the precise time that the negotiations will be completed. The document is then the subject of consideration by the Commission's internal services committee, a process taking about four weeks. It is currently anticipated that the document will be presented to either the January or February committees for approval.

Quality Mark (Builders)

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many builders have applied to join the Birmingham quality mark trial. [138449]

Ms Beverley Hughes: To date, two firms have been awarded a quality mark, a further 17 are in the process of assessment and are expected to complete shortly. In addition, a further 470 builders have shown their interest by requesting, and being issued with a registration pack.

Supporting People Programme

Ms Rosie Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how the Government intends to take forward the implementation in England of the Supporting People programme. [138765]

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Mr. Raynsford: A consultation paper entitled 'Phased Implementation' was published on 17 May, inviting all the major stakeholders, local authorities, probation services, health authorities and provider organisations to give us their views on the implementation process for this programme. Specifically they were asked to say whether they supported the view that implementation should be phased.

The responses to the consultation paper have been most helpful to our decision making on this issue, and I am today publishing a summary of the analysis of the consultation responses. Copies are being placed in the Library and will be sent to all those who made responses.

The overwhelming response from stakeholders was that Supporting People should be implemented in all local authorities in England at the same time, and that phasing the programme would only add unnecessary complexities and cause confusion for authorities, their partner organisations, providers and service users.

Following publication of the consultation paper, the Comprehensive Spending Review made available substantial resources for the implementation of this programme, the majority of which will be used to resource implementation at a local level.

The Supporting People programme will therefore be implemented across England in April 2003.

Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre

Mr. Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on his plans for the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre. [138793]

Mr. Hill: My Department has today initiated a review of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (QEIICC). It was established as an Executive Agency in 1989 and must be reviewed every five years in accordance with the latest Cabinet Office guidance. The last review led to a market test which resulted in a five-year service level agreement being awarded to the in-house management team from 1 April 1996.

The review will, in particular, take account of:

It will consider all organisational options for the Agency and recommend a preferred course of action. Customers, staff and trade unions will be consulted.

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