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Foot and Mouth

Mr. Opik: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what discussions he has had with banks regarding the waiving of interest payments of debts accrued directly as a result of the foot and mouth outbreak; and if he will make a statement. [158723]

Mr. Meacher: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) on 6 April 2001 Official Report, columns 319-20W. In addition to the sympathetic approach which the banks have announced, the Government announced on 6 April an extension to the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme to assist businesses suffering cash flow problems due to the effects of foot and mouth. When the Revenue agrees

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to deferral of tax or National Insurance Contributions because a business is in serious financial difficulty due to the effects of foot and mouth, neither interest nor surcharges will be payable on deferred tax and National Insurance Contributions over the period they are deferred.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to the Minister for the Environment's oral statement of 23 April 2001, Official Report, column 32, if he will initiate an immediate study into (a) the formation of dioxins due to combustion of chlorinated compounds in carcases burnt by napalm and (b) the formation of poly-aromatic hydrocarbons due to reactions involving naphtha compounds in napalm. [159231]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 27 April 2001]: The chemical reactions from burning napalm are already well understood. Napalm is therefore not being used to burn carcases, as both forms of napalm available produce very toxic compounds when they burn.

Station Franchises

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to improve the requirements for facilities at stations beyond those contained in existing franchise contracts. [158828]

Mr. Hill: One of the aims of franchise replacement is to secure improvements in facilities at stations. The Government have also made available £105 million which is distributed through the Rail Passengers Partnership scheme. The scheme is designed to encourage rail initiatives at a local level and station improvements would be eligible for consideration. In addition, there is a £225 million programme to enhance passenger facilities at stations over the next five years.

Railways (Code of Practice)

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to ensure that the Strategic Rail Authority contributes to the Government's goal of tackling social exclusion. [158830]

Mr. Hill: The SRA's interim Directions and Guidance from the Secretary of State require it:

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the implementation of the commitment in the 1998 White Paper on the Future of Transport that rail operators will be asked to report on their success in meeting the objectives in the code of practice for rail operators; and he will place a copy of these reports in the Library. [158829]

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Mr. Hill: I will write further to my hon. Friend about these reports. The Strategic Rail Authority is working with Sustrans and BikeRail to encourage best practise and will be taking over the sponsorship from Sustrans of the Cycle Mark award scheme.

Heat Insulation

Mr. Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what consultations he has had about the suitability of BS 5422 as a heat insulation standard; and if he will assess the benefits of raising the level of heat insulation for pipework specified in BS 5422. [158809]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The current (1995) edition of Approved Document L indicates that if the relevant recommendations in BS 5422 (1990) for thermal insulation of heating and hot water pipes, ducts and vessels are adopted the requirements in the Building Regulations for this aspect of the conservation of fuel and power in buildings would be met. A consultation document on amendments to Approved Document L was published last summer and included references to the prospective new edition of BS 5422 (2001) for heating and hot water systems as before, and for air conditioning systems including their attendant chilled water and refrigerant services. These proposed amendments were accompanied by a regulatory impact assessment in which the beneficial effects of thermal insulation were taken into account, but BS 5422 was not explicitly identified. There was no adverse comment in the response to the consultation so the references to BS 5422 have been carried forward into the interim draft Approved Document L published on 9 April 2001.

The suitability of BS 5422 as a heat insulation standard for industrial processes is a matter for the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.


Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what role the Strategic Rail Authority has in the publication of Railtrack's Annual Network Management Statement for Great Britain for 2001; and when he expects the document to be published. [159182]

Mr. Hill: Railtrack is required to consult the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) regarding the SRA's present and future proposals for the provision of railway services. The SRA will work with Railtrack to identify, prioritise, prepare and put out to tender the enhancement projects that will increase capacity and improve safety and performance on the network.

Railtrack expects to publish Part 1 of its Network Management Statement, on the core railway and its asset stewardship obligations, by the end of May 2001. Part 2 of the statement, to be published in the autumn, will identify enhancement projects and set out a procurement method agreed with the SRA.

Are You Doing Your Bit? Campaign

Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what plans

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he has to change the funding arrangements of the campaign, "Are you doing your bit?", in 2001-02; and if he will make a statement; [159256]

Mr. Robert Ainsworth: The "are you doing your bit?" campaign, which promotes energy efficiency, transport, water conservation and waste reduction messages, was launched by the Deputy Prime Minister in 1998. Its budget provides for a range of activity, including an annual road show, in addition to the television and radio advertising campaign.

£5 million of the budget identified for the overall campaign in 2001-02 (approximately £8 million) has been redirected to comprise one element of the £15 million package of short-term practical help for rural businesses in the areas worst affected by foot and mouth disease. The package was announced on 11 April by the Minister for the Environment and Chairman of the Rural Taskforce.

Details of the advertising budget for DETR (Central) for 2002-03 and 2003-04 have not yet been decided. Allocation of advertising expenditure to particular campaigns, including "are you doing your bit?", will be on the basis of a strategic assessment of policy priorities by Ministers.

Bus Passes

Mr. Hurst: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many pensioners are eligible to apply for the free bus pass which entitles the holder to half-price fares; how many have applied; and what estimate he has made of the likely cost of the scheme. [159372]

Mr. Hill: The relevant provisions are already in force in Greater London. From 1 June, all pensioners in England--an estimated 9 million--will be eligible, but application is to the relevant local authority; no central records are kept. The additional costs of guaranteeing half-fare reductions for pensioners on buses have been estimated at around £39 million a year, to be met from adjustments to Revenue Support Grant.

Gait Burrows Nature Reserve

Mr. Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps English Nature is taking (a) to ensure that Gait Burrows National Nature Reserve is not damaged by the Lunesdale Hunt and (b) to remedy damage done by hunting. [159496]

Mr. Robert Ainsworth: Recent incidents at Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve have been brought to the attention of the Lancashire Constabulary. English Nature has written to the chairman of the Lunesdale Hunt requesting a full explanation of the incidents, and has withdrawn permission for the Hunt to enter Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve. This will be reconsidered only once English Nature has received and considered a response.

I understand the physical damage to the site is considered to be short term and the site will recover through natural processes.

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