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Departmental Employees (Ethnic Minorities)

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what percentage of the total workforce in his Department is of ethnic

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minority origin; and what steps he is taking to encourage the employment of people from the ethnic minorities in his Department. [102740]

Ms Beverley Hughes: My right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office set out in her reply given on 16 December 1999, Official Report, column 264W, corporate action that we are taking to encourage the employment of people from ethnic minority backgrounds. A total of 5.2 per cent. of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions current workforce (including its Agencies) are from an ethnic minority.

My Department is taking a number of measures to increase the representation of people from an ethnic minority background. We have participated in the Windsor Fellowship, Diversity UK, Afro-Caribbean and National Mentoring Careers Fairs aimed at encouraging ethnic minority undergraduates to consider a career in the Department. We have taken on ethnic minority students on Windsor Fellowship summer placements for a number of years and plan to increase the number of placements from two to six next year. We also want to bring in senior and professional people from the ethnic minorities on secondment. In addition to this, we advertise in Job Centres and newspapers with a large ethnic minority readership, for example The Voice and The Eastern Eye, to attract potential ethnic minority recruits.

Transport Council

Mr. Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what was the outcome of the Transport Council held in Brussels on 9-10 December; and if he will make a statement. [102635]

Mr. Hill: The Transport Council met in Brussels on 9-10 December. My right hon. and noble Friend Lord Macdonald of Tradeston represented the United Kingdom.

The Council reached political agreement on a package of three draft directives, which take the opening of the internal market for rail services a significant step further. The package will amend Directives 91/440 and 95/18 and replace Directive 95/19. It will: provide open access for rail freight operators to a Trans-European Rail Freight Network (TERFN), which includes all major terminals and ports; broaden the scope of existing provisions for separation of accounts and certain essential functions between infrastructure management and train service operations; extend Community-wide recognition of train operators' licences to all railway undertakings established in the Community; and establish rules for allocating capacity on railway infrastructure and charging for its use. Conclusions were also adopted on improving interoperability and alleviating rail bottlenecks

The Commission gave a progress report to Council on the definition phase of the Galileo satellite navigation project, including a report on discussions with the US and Russia. Lord Macdonald expressed the UK's disappointment at the pace of work on public-private financing and cost benefit analysis. He said that more work was needed to enable decisions to be taken at the end of 2000 on the future development of satellite navigation in Europe.

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There was a debate on the establishment of a European Aviation Safety Authority. The Commission proposed that the new authority should be set up as a Community agency. The UK and some other member states argued that an international body was preferable, as the Council had previously agreed. It would be genuinely pan-European and would have the support of the aviation industry. Following the debate, the Presidency asked the Commission to produce an analysis of its proposal for a Community agency, but also to begin exploratory talks with third countries.

The Commission gave a presentation to the Council on air traffic management in Europe. Referring to lack of ATM capacity as a cause of increasing delays, and to the need for greater cooperation between states, the Commission proposed centralised management of a "Single European Sky". The Commissioner, Mrs. de Palacio, proposed that she should chair a high level group of member states' representatives, to study the issue. It would aim to report to the Transport Council in June 2000.

The Council discussed aviation noise problems. The Commission reported on the latest developments in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on international standards and on its recent consultations with the United States. The Council reaffirmed its commitment to the ICAO process, and repeated that, if the outcome was successful and met the EU's objectives, existing Community legislation could be replaced by new international rules if these were more favourable. The Commission was invited to look at the issue urgently and propose solutions.

The Commission presented a study on the economic impact of the draft directive on ferry manning, which would ensure that conditions for third country crew members on intra-EC ferry services were at least as favourable as those of EC crew members. The study suggested that the impact would be negligible. The Commission's view remained that the directive would protect jobs in the EU. The UK and some other member states welcomed the report and strongly supported the proposal, which was first put forward during the UK Presidency. The Council will return to the issue at a later date.

The Council held a further debate on proposals for the extension of working time provisions to road transport. There remains disagreement between member states on fundamental issues, including application to the self-employed. Following the debate, the Presidency concluded that the Council should continue to look for solutions.

There was a progress report from the Commission on negotiations with ten Central and Eastern European countries on extension of the aviation single market.

The Council adopted Resolutions on the promotion of short sea shipping and on ways to encourage the greater use of intermodal freight transport. It also adopted a mandate authorising the Commission to commence air transport negotiations with Cyprus.

There were also Commission reports on: indicators on transport and the environment; the recent report of the forum on barriers to innovation in transport, which aimed to produce an action plan by the end of 2000; Community accession to Eurocontrol, on which the Commission

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hoped that an Accession protocol could be signed at the MATSE VI Conference of aviation Ministers on 27 January; the recent aviation open skies conference in Chicago; and a Commission Communication on air transport and the environment.

Health and Safety Executive

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what are the projected costs of the Health and Safety Executive for the financial years (a) 1999-2000 and (b) 2000-01. [102750]

Mr. Meacher: The projected costs of the Health and Safety Executive for financial years (a) 1999-2000 and (b) 2000-2001 are (a) £230 million and (b) £239 million. The figure for 2000-01 excludes the cost of the public inquiry into the Ladbroke Grove train crash.


Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list the property held by the CAA on behalf of the National Air Traffic Services or by NATS itself, indicating in each case (a) its location, (b) its present value, (c) whether it is leased or owned with details of any leases, (d) whether the property is wholly or partially occupied by NATS and (e) which company or consultancy has given advice on the property value recently. [102913]

Mr. Mullin: The information is not available in the form requested at the present time. I understand that the total number of properties involved is in excess of 140, many of which are radio stations, radar sites and navigational aids. My Department's advisers are currently in the process of carrying out a property due diligence exercise as part of the preparatory work for the proposed public private partnership. However, it is not likely to be completed before spring 2000.

Minerals (West Midlands)

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the objection by the Government Office for the West Midlands to the Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Minerals Local Plan 1996 to 2006. [102991]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Government Office for the West Midlands is maintaining an objection to policy M16 (Crushed Rock Aggregates) in the Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Minerals Local Plan. The objection is to the effect that the policy on crushed rock extraction should be more flexible to enable proposals to come forward, in exceptional circumstances, for new as well as extended sites. Any application for a new site for crushed rock extraction would be determined in the light of all material planning considerations, including the extensive nature of existing reserves. A proposed modification meeting the Government Office's objection was placed on deposit by the joint minerals planning authority on 3 December.

Climate Change Levy

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 26 November 1999, Official Report, column 213W, concerning the Climate Change Levy,

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what role the Energy Technology Support Unit will have in determining cost-effective measures with respect to the Climate Change Levy. [103019]

Mr. Meacher: The Department has appointed ETSU to be its independent, professional and technical advisers in discussions about prospective climate change levy agreements with eligible energy intensive industry sector participants. ETSU work with the Sector Associations and the Department to advise on the potential for energy and carbon dioxide savings in the respective sectors. In addition, they are advising the Department on the stringency of target offers from the Sector Associations, principally by comparing them with projections drawn from ETSU's "All Cost Effective" scenario in their report "Industrial sector carbon dioxide emissions: projections and indicators for the UK 1990-2010" published in April 1999.

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