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Mr. Stringer: "Public Bodies 2000" is the latest in a series of annual reports on the size, spend and membership of the UK "quango" sector. I am pleased to report that "Public Bodies 2000" was published on 4 January and that copies are available from the Vote Office. Copies have also been placed in the Libraries of the House.
This Government are committed to keeping the number of "quangos" (or non-departmental public bodies) to a minimum. I am, therefore, pleased to report that there are now fewer "quangos" in the UK than at any other time over the past 20 years. The latest figure of 1,035 means that numbers have fallen by around 10 per cent. since 1997. Those "quangos" which remain, such as the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency and the Parole Board, continue to carry out a range of important and essential public services.
The Government are determined to ensure that all "quangos" are open and accountable. To this end, responsibility for hundreds of public bodies has now been transferred to the new, democratically elected bodies in Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and London. Furthermore, our new Freedom of Information Act 2000 will introduce a statutory right of access to a wide range of information held by all public bodies.
As a Government, we are committed to increasing the representation of under-represented groups. I am, therefore, pleased to note that "Public Bodies 2000" reports an increase in the proportion of women and members of the ethnic minorities serving on the boards of public bodies compared with 1997. In total, there are around 30,000 men and women serving on the boards of the public bodies. They bring a wealth of skills and experience into the running of public bodies and we are grateful for their continued involvement and enthusiasm.
Angela Smith: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what progress has been made in implementing the recommendations of 'Successful IT: Modernising Government in Action', published in May 2000. 
Mr. Ian McCartney: On 29 December 2000, Andrew Pinder, the interim e-Envoy, reported to me on the progress. An electronic copy of the report is at www.e-envoy.gov.uk/successful--it/progress--forword.htm. This shows much work has been achieved so far. All 19 recommendations due for completion by December 2000 were met. These early recommendations have laid the infrastructure that will help Government Departments, executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies to implement their recommendations to improve their delivery of IT-enabled projects and programmes. Copies of the report have been laid in the Libraries of the House.
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Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what proportion of industrial sites covered by the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive are not energy intensive users. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 15 December 2000]: A list of energy intensive installations is given in paragraph 51 of Schedule 6 of the Finance Act 2000. This list describes the sectors covered by the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive. All industrial sites with installations covered by the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive are considered by that definition to be energy intensive.
Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps he is taking including relevant research to promote sustainable urban drainage; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: I refer my hon. Friend to my answer to the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson), on 13 November 2000, Official Report, column 476W, in which I outlined the range of promotional activities for sustainable drainage systems in which my Department is involved.
My Department co-funded with the Environment Agency and others, the Construction Research and Information Association (CIRIA) research project, which examined sustainable urban drainage systems in practice. Design manuals for Scotland and Northern Ireland and for England and Wales were published during 1999 and a best practice manual is to be published shortly. Officials are also assisting in steering a CIRIA project that has just started on sustainable water management.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many telephone calls were received by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency on 18 December from keepers of vehicles inquiring about the implementation of the new excise duty rates for vehicles of 1500cc and less. 
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Mr. Hill: In accordance with the Government's Road Safety Strategy we are currently considering options for improving the safety of novice drivers. This includes the recommendation made by the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Select Committee that a minimum period should be set between drivers obtaining their provisional licence and first attempting a practical car driving test. We wish to ensure that learner drivers achieve the necessary level of driving experience before they take their test and will consult fully on any proposals before introducing any subsequent changes to the present arrangements.
Mr. Opik: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has for the Government Advisory Group for Motorcycles to develop a national motorcycle strategy; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hill: Our integrated transport White Paper recognised that motorcycles can contribute to an integrated transport policy, but there are important and complex matters to consider, including road safety, traffic management and environmental issues. The Advisory Group on Motorcycling was established to bring together motorcycle interests to discuss these issues. The Group has still to reach conclusions, but these should assist the Government in defining their strategy for motorcycles.
Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the results of the consultation undertaken on the problems of the dispersal of foam plastics in 1998. 
Mr. Mullin: DETR published a consultation paper "Options for Tackling the Problem of Waste Non- Packaging Farm Plastics" in October 1998. This sought opinions on the potential for legislative and voluntary approaches to recycling non-packaging agricultural film. Some 10,000 consultation documents were issued but there was a very limited response to this consultation--only 35. These showed no clear preference for a legislative approach and provided the Government with no clear basis for future action. The issue has been raised again in the context of extending waste management controls to agricultural waste and is being considered currently.
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(3) what publicly funded urban regeneration programmes have not been able to go ahead after the cancellation of the Partnership Investment Programme; 
(4) what urban regeneration projects by English Partnerships have been cancelled after the ending of partnerships investment programme funding under EU rules; what arguments were put to the EU Commission in defence of the partnerships investment programme; and what assessment he has made of the prospects of the partnerships investment programme being allowed to continue under EU rules; 
(5) which other EU member states are supporting Her Majesty's Government's discussions to reverse the decision ending the Partnerships Investment Programme; 
(6) what discussions are taking place with the EU Commission about alternatives to the partnerships investment programme. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: I refer the hon. Member to the Government's response 1 to the 16th report of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Select Committee report and the subsequent debate on the Select Committee's report, which took place in the House of Commons on 19 December 2000.
The Government are not involved in any discussions to reverse the decision ending the Partnership Investment Programme (PIP). The closure of PIP has not prevented other publicly funded urban regeneration programmes from going ahead.
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