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Chinese Embassy Bombing (Belgrade)

Mr. Galloway: To ask the Prime Minister if he has received from the United States an explanation of the circumstances surrounding the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade on 7 April; and if he will make a statement. [102058]

The Prime Minister: The circumstances which led to the accidental strike against the Chinese Embassy on 7 May were considered in detail by NATO at the time.

State Visits

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister if, when Her Majesty the Queen makes a state visit overseas, she does so in her capacity as Head of State of the United Kingdom as well as in her capacity as Head of State of the other Commonwealth countries of which she is Queen. [101404]

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The Prime Minister: The British Government advise The Queen to undertake State Visits as Head of State of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister if Her Majesty the Queen welcomed the President of China to London in her capacity as Head of State of the United Kingdom or as Head of State of all the Commonwealth countries of which she is Head of State; and if he will make a statement. [101405]

The Prime Minister: The British Government advised The Queen, as Head of State of the United Kingdom, to invite the President of the People's Republic of China on a State Visit to Britain.

ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS

Concrete

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what initiatives he is pursuing to help concrete manufacturers search for alternative fuels. [100035]

Mr. Mullin: The Government recognise that using high calorific value wastes to replace conventional fuels in industrial processes can deliver benefits, where it is the best practicable environmental option for the waste stream. The use of alternative fuels must also meet stringent environmental controls under Integrated Pollution Control.

The use of alternative fuels on cement kilns must represent the best available techniques not entailing excessive cost. Trials of alternative fuels are regulated by the Agency under the Substitute Fuels Protocol, which sets out detailed requirements for emissions monitoring and public consultation. If trials are successful, the Environment Agency issues authorisations which set stringent emissions limits on emissions to all environmental media, so as to protect human health and the environment.

Fuel Poverty

Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what estimate he has made of the number of homes each year which will be removed from fuel poverty by the Government's policies; [100824]

Mr. Meacher: Households who would require to spend more than 10 per cent. of their total households income on fuel in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime are commonly regarded as being fuel poor. 4.3 million households in England in 1996 were in this situation.

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The Government's New Home Energy Efficiency Scheme is designed to treat 460,000 households between now and April 2002 at a cost of £260 million for these years. These households should be substantially moved away from fuel poverty.

In addition an unknown number of households will be taken out of fuel poverty as a result of other programmes including the liberalisation of the energy markets and the energy efficiency standards of performance schemes (EESOPs) which are being extended to gas suppliers and customers in the New Year.

The inter-Ministerial group chaired jointly by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Energy and Competitiveness in Europe and my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions will consider the impact of these programmes. The group will then seek to develop a more accurate picture of the extent of the problem, how quickly it can be addressed, and at what cost, so that a target date can be set for the elimination of fuel poverty in England.

Some of the policy initiatives in this area, such as the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme, are devolved functions. Therefore a target date for Scotland and Wales would be a matter for the Parliament and Assembly respectively.

A41 (Aylesbury)

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is his latest estimate of the average number of vehicles using the (a) A41 ring road, Aylesbury, and (b) A41 Bicester road, Aylesbury (i) each day and (ii) during peak hours. [101118]

Mr. Hill: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Peter Nutt, to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Richard Thorndike, on behalf of Mr. Peter Nutt, to Mr. David Lidington, dated 13 December 1999:



    The following figures were recorded in June 1999. The Highways Agency has a traffic counter in Friarage Road, and this recorded an average two-way traffic flow of 30,676 vehicles per day. The highest hourly flows were 2,655 vehicles between 8.00am and 9.00am, and 2,442 between 5.00pm and 6.00pm both during the week. There are no counters on Bicester Road, but the closest on the A41 is near Fleet Marston approximately 1 mile away. This recorded two-way flows of 15,041 vehicles per day, and the highest weekday hourly flows were 1,437 vehicles and 1,466 vehicles, again between 8.00am and 9.00am and 5.00pm and 6.00pm respectively.

Millennium Dome

Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions to what extent public transport services will be reduced in London as a result of arrangements for public transport to the Millennium Dome. [101158]

Mr. Hill: There will be no reduction in public transport. On the contrary, the extended Jubilee Line, new river services and new bus services will enhance public transport provision in the capital city. The maximum number of visitors attending a single session at the

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Millennium Dome will be 35,000, which equates to less than 1 per cent. of the passenger traffic in the capital on any weekday morning.

There are many potential choices of mode and route for journeys to the Dome from within the London area. These journeys are therefore expected to be accommodated with only minimum impact on the capital's public transport system. Around 60 per cent. of visitors are expected to arrive at the Dome on the new extended Jubilee Line, which has sufficient capacity to carry up to 24,000 people per hour. A further 14 per cent. are expected to arrive on either the new river or Millennium Transit bus services, which are being introduced as part of the Millennium Experience Transport Strategy.

Ladbroke Grove

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the rail layout at Ladbroke Grove was designed, approved and installed. [101596]

Mr. Hill: The track layout at Ladbroke Grove is part of a larger scheme extending from Paddington station to past the Heathrow Airport turnoff at Airport Junction. The layout was designed and installed during the late 1980s and early 1990s by British Railways. The works were staged over a number of years and railway privatisation occurred during that time. The works included Airport Junction and electrification on the overhead line system for Heathrow Express. Statutory approval by Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate (HMRI) matched the stage at which the works had reached. Some of the works were approved but approval of the signalling was not completed before the accident at Southall occurred. After the Southall accident the remaining signalling approval was held in abeyance by HMRI pending the findings of the public inquiry.

Concessionary Fares

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will encourage local authorities which do not currently run concessionary fares schemes to visit those which do. [101688]

Mr. Hill: This is a matter for the local authorities concerned, though it would always seem sensible for local authorities to consider whether they might usefully draw on the experience of others.

Rail Services (Northampton/Euston)

Mr. Tony Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on progress on his discussions with Railtrack on the protection of access for local rail services between Northampton and Euston following the upgrade of the West Coast main line. [101490]

Mr. Hill: The Rail Regulator is consulting on a draft order which, if confirmed, would require Railtrack to complete by the end of February 2000 various strategic reviews, including one of the scope for faster services between Euston and Northampton following the upgrade of the West Coast Main Line. The review is intended to provide sufficient information to enable train operators

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and the shadow Strategic Rail Authority (sSRA) to take informed decisions on the existing access arrangements and on the potential for improved services.


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