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Mr. Hoon [holding answer 24 April 2001]: The location of the final assembly line for the A400M is primarily a matter for Airbus Military Company. The company will be contracted to deliver aircraft on the basis of a "commercial approach" which makes maximum use of existing supply chains and centres of excellence. Just as Airbus UK is the centre of excellence for wing design and will be leading the wing design for the A400M, so European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company of Spain is the centre of excellence for military transport aircraft assembly and this thus influences the choice of Spain to host the final assembly line.
Dr. Godman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for North Tayside (Mr. Swinney) of 29 March 2001, Official Report, column 733W, on the cost of the clean-up operation of Holy Loch, what proportion of the cost has been met by the US Defense Department; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence's industrial staff will transfer from weekly to monthly pay during April and May this year as part of the process of harmonising their pay and grading arrangements with those of non-industrial staff, who are paid monthly. The change to monthly pay was negotiated with the industrial trade unions and supported by a majority of industrial staff who voted in favour by ballot. As is normal practice, the
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The Solicitor-General: The Attorney-General and I received a briefing from Lord Birt setting out his emerging findings, prior to our meeting with him. Aside from that, the work undertaken by Lord Birt was considered alongside that undertaken by the Home Office, the Lord Chancellor's Department, the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers and Her Majesty's Treasury in preparing the Government's strategy document "Criminal Justice: the Way Ahead".
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Solicitor-General on how many occasions, and on what dates, (a) he and (b) the Attorney-General have met Lord Birt in his capacity as an adviser on crime since his appointment; and if he will make a statement about the contribution of Lord Birt to his Department's policies. 
The Solicitor-General: The Attorney-General and I have had one substantive meeting with Lord Birt. The work undertaken by Lord Birt was considered alongside that undertaken by the Home Office, the Lord Chancellor's Department, the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers and Her Majesty's Treasury in preparing the Government's strategy document "Criminal Justice: the Way Ahead".
Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss with President Bush the role of the American element in KFOR in Macedonia and at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo; and if he will make a statement. 
The Prime Minister: KFOR's mandate does not include operations in Macedonia. As is the case for other KFOR contributors, including the UK, the US has a logistical unit based in Macedonia in support of their KFOR contingent based at Camp Bondsteel.
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Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the safety of passenger aircraft approaching Newcastle Airport, following the AAIB report on an incident involving civilian and military aircraft on 20 March 2000; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: The AAIB report made two recommendations to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), both of which the Authority has partially accepted. In its published response to the recommendations, the CAA said that the Directorate of Airspace Policy had conducted a study of operations by scheduled public transport services in all Class G airspace, including those in the vicinity of Newcastle Airport. The study confirmed that provided a Radar Advisory Service or Radar Information Service is used, safety levels in such airspace meet the internationally agreed standard.
It is clear from this incident, however, that not all traffic is availing itself of such air traffic services. Consequently the CAA is working closely with airspace users and Newcastle Airport, as a matter of urgency, on a wide range of initiatives aimed at preventing such conflicts in the future.
Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the effect on (a) emissions reduction and (b) congestion reduction of the decision to raise motorcycle excise duty by £5. 
Mr. Hill: Vehicle Excise Duty for motorcycles over 250cc increased by £5 to £65 from 1 March 2001. My Department has not carried out any formal analysis of the effect of this change on levels or patterns of motorcycle use and hence on congestion and levels of emissions. However, we believe that any such effects are likely to be negligible.
Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many housing developments were approved in London during each of the past three years; and what proportion of the development was for affordable rented housing and for social housing. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth [holding answer 23 April 2001]: The estimated number of planning applications, for which planning permission was granted, relating to housing developments in London is as follows:
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Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what discussions he has had with rail companies on the introduction of further fare concessions for retired people. 
Mr. Hill: There have been no discussions. The franchise agreement under which rail services are provided require train operating companies to participate in mandatory railcard schemes, including one for senior citizens, based on the railcards offered by British Rail. Participation in these schemes will be a requirement in any new franchise negotiated under the Strategic Rail Authority's replacement programme. Any further concession would be a matter for the Association of Train Operating Companies to consider.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what recent discussions he has had with London local authorities to encourage the development of a Londonwide cycle lane network; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hill: None. This is a matter for the Mayor of London, Transport for London and the other local highway authorities in London. The Mayor's draft transport strategy shows that Transport for London is taking a proactive approach to encouraging cycling.
Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps have been taken since May 1997 to equip local authorities with greater powers to regulate noise pollution. 
Mr. Hill [holding answer 23 April 2001]: The provisions in the Noise Act 1996 relating to the new night noise offence and associated powers of seizure came into force on 23 July 1997. We have issued a consultation paper, following a review of the Noise Act, setting out further options for local authorities to use in tackling noise nuisance. The closing date for comments was 31 March. I will announce the outcome of the consultation to the House. Copies of the report and consultation paper are available in the House Library.
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