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Proprietorial Schools

Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what discussions he has with the Department for Education and Employment concerning the impact on proprietorial schools of his decision not to issue permits to such schools under Section 19 of the Transport Act 1985; [99760]

Mr. Hill: It has always been the case that only vehicles that are not being used with a view to profit may be operated under a permit issued under Section 19 of the Transport Act 1985. Decisions on whether particular applicants are eligible under the terms of Section 19 are for the Traffic Commissioners not my Department. I understand that there have been a small number of recent cases where proprietorial schools have applied for a public service vehicle operator's licence after having been ruled ineligible for a Section 19 permit by the Traffic Commissioner.

There have been no discussions between my Department and the Department for Education and Employment on this particular issue.

Health and Safety Laboratory

Mr. Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the Health and Safety Laboratory intends to publish its Annual report and Accounts for 1998-99. [100474]

Mr. Meacher: The Health and Safety Laboratory has today published the 1998-99 Annual Report and Accounts, and copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Cement

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what recent representations he has received on the use of alternative fuels for the production of cement. [100023]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The use of alternative fuels for the production of cement has raised a significant amount of public interest. The Department has received a number of representations from local communities where cement kilns are situated, environmental pressure groups, as well as representations from the cement industry itself.

Regional Development Agencies

Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps he is

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taking to ensure that regional development agencies are responsible for promoting a sustainable energy policy within their region. [100455]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The new UK Sustainable Development Strategy, published in May this year, said that the Government wished to see high level sustainable development frameworks for each English region by the end of 2000. These frameworks will set out a regional vision for sustainable development. They will need to have the support of a wide range of stakeholders and should be agreed by Regional Chambers. Although they will not be in the lead, RDAs will be one of the key partners in the preparation of frameworks.

One of the tasks identified for these frameworks will be to build consensus on how the national policy and target on renewable energy will be taken forward in each region. Government Offices are initiating work to produce regional assessments and targets for renewable energy provision based on regional resource studies. The Government hope that frameworks will draw upon this work and elaborate a regional approach to renewable energy delivery, including regional targets.

The frameworks should take account of issues raised by the RDA strategies for sustainable development and, in turn, will inform future revisions of the RDA strategies.

Mr. Alan Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many people are employed by each of the regional development agencies; and what have been their administration costs since their establishment. [100464]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The table shows the number of full-time equivalent staff in the Regional Development Agencies, as at 1 April 1999 (the most recent figures available); the administration costs for the period December 1998 to April 1999, when the Agencies were being set up; and administration budgets for the current financial year.

£000

Regional Development AgencyStaff1998-991999-2000
One North East2032,3959,771
North West(1)18232712,131
Yorkshire Forward174.54038,036
East Midlands1074067,155
Advantage West Midlands118.53847,678
East of England383504,803
South East604115,225
South West1434617,488
Total1,0265,13762,287

(1) Total staff, not full-time equivalents. No separate figure for part-time staff available.


Signals (Millennium Compliance)

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if all (a) road traffic signals systems and (b) rail signals systems are millennium compliant; and if he will make a statement. [100078]

Mr. Hill [holding answer 26 November 1999]: The millennium readiness of road traffic signals systems and national railways signals systems has been assessed under

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Action 2000's Independent Assessment Programme. These assessments concluded that all safety critical and business continuity systems within the local and national road sectors in England, and the national railways sector in Great Britain, were 100 per cent. blue--indicating that the assessments have identified no risk of material disruption. Full details are available on Action 2000's website (www.bug2000.co.uk).

Public Transport (Millennium Holiday)

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement about public transport arrangements for new year's eve and new year's day. [100077]

Mr. Hill [holding answer 26 November 1999]: The details of transport provision over the Millennium period are primarily a matter for decisions and announcement by individual transport operators taking account of local needs and in consultation with local authorities and other relevant bodies. Many bus and rail transport providers will operate special timetables to enable members of the public to get to and from Millennium celebrations. In developing such timetables, operators have maintained close contact with police and emergency services.

Disabled Facilities Grant

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will review the operation of the disabled facilities grant to ensure that it provides prompt and sympathetic treatment for those with degenerative conditions. [99063]

Mr. Mullin: My Department keeps the operation of disabled facilities grants under regular review, to ensure that they continue to provide prompt and sympathetic treatment for all disabled people who need adaptations to their homes. The allowances in the test of resources are reviewed and uprated annually, to ensure that they reflect changes in living costs. Last year, we announced that we would increase the resources available for the grant by a quarter over the following three years, and this should enable local authorities to deal with applications more promptly. Local authorities are required by law to deal with applications as quickly as possible, and we advise them in guidance to ensure that applicants with the most pressing needs are dealt with first.

Transport Council

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what issues will be discussed at the next meeting of EU transport ministers. [100499]

Mr. Hill: The proposed agenda for the 9-10 December Transport Council comprises the following items.








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    Land Transport


    6. New developments for European railways (including rail infrastructure, rail interoperability and alleviation of bottlenecks);


    7. Working time in road transport;


    Air Transport


    8. Short and long term perspectives on aviation noise;


    9. Establishment of a European Aviation Safety Authority


    10. Air Transport negotiations with Central and Eastern European countries;


    11. Commission Communication on air traffic management


    12. Other business

Inverness Airport

Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many flights there were (a) into and (b) out of Inverness airport, in each of the last three years. [100307]

Mr. Mullin: Data on aircraft movements are collected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The CAA data does not distinguish between a take-off and a landing referring only to aircraft movements which can be either a take-off or a landing. The last three years for which there is a full year's data are 1996, 1997 and 1998.



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