We recommend that the Government, in conjunction
with the Chamber of Shipping and others, should monitor closely
the success or otherwise of its proposed voluntary training levies
[for the shipping industry] and, if they prove unsuccessful, should
consider what measures should be put in place to eliminate 'free
riding'. This is a subject to which we return when we consider
the proposed tonnage tax (paragraph 59).
The minimum training obligation attached to the tonnage
tax, rather than the voluntary training levy originally proposed
by the industry, is now the main policy instrument for ensuring
that companies train sufficient UK seafarers to meet their requirements.
Accordingly, the industry's efforts have been focussed on the
establishment of the Maritime Training Trust which is the body
set up to hold and allocate monies contributed by companies under
the minimum training obligation for the purpose of promoting the
training of seafarers. We will monitor the effectiveness of this
and determine with the industry and maritime unions whether further
training initiatives are necessary.
We recommend that, hand in hand with efforts
to increase the funding for, and the availability of, training
berths, the Government should take the lead in ensuring that sufficient
cadets come forward to fill those berths. We recommend that the
Government looks to the example set by the Netherlands, and the
successful campaign mounted there to attract recruits to the industry
The Merchant Navy Training Board as the industry's
National Training Organisation is the appropriate body for such
a promotional role. It has initiatives already underway designed
to attract recruits to the industry. In addition, the Government
has launched an annual Merchant Navy Day on 3 September with the
aim of encouraging young people to consider a career at sea.
We recommend that the Government should further
press the European Union to consider including intra-community
cargo vessels within the terms of the ferry manning initiative
The Government adheres to the view it expressed previously
in response to the Select Committee, namely, that it shares the
view of the Commission that cargo services constitute a significantly
different market from passenger services and that to press for
their inclusion in the measure would put its adoption at risk.
The Government further notes that the Commission has now accepted
an amendment of the European Parliament which expressly excludes
carrying cargo only from the scope of the measure.
We welcome the Government's commitment to help
the industry to establish a register of British ratings. We recommend
that the Government should ensure that accurate data about the
state of the British shipping industry continues to be gathered
in future (paragraph 66).
The Chamber of Shipping has undertaken to maintain
and update its statistical database on the number of ratings employed
by member companies on an annual basis. In addition, a further
study is to be undertaken by the DETR and the Chamber of Shipping
to update the 1992 survey of UK ratings employed by UK companies
who are not member of the Chamber of Shipping.
We recommend that, as a matter of urgency,
the Government should consider how best to end the anomaly concerning
the non-application of Foreign Earnings Deduction to British seafarers
engaged in the short-sea and coastal trades. Its objective in
doing so should be to encourage the employment of British seafarers
in those vessels which operate close to our coasts (paragraph
The position remains as stated in the Government's
response of July 1999, namely that 100% relief from tax is available
to and claimed by those employed by both short-sea and deep-sea
shipping. By definition, Foreign Earnings deduction is not available
to those seafarers without any foreign earnings.
We recommend that the Government should set
itself ambitious targets and deadlines for enhancing the situation
of the UK shipping industry. There must be improvements in the
number, weight and type of vessels on the UK register, and the
number, age distribution, and quality of British seafarers (paragraph
Our general objective for UK seafarers skills is
to ensure that the recruitment and training of UK seafarers is
increased to a level sufficient to meet the future needs of both
the shipping industry and of the wider maritime-related sectors
which depend on employees with seafaring skills and experience.
Our target is to increase annual recruitment by 100 extra UK officer
trainees each year, thereby doubling the annual intake within
5 years. This objective should be secured through the mechanism
of the tonnage tax minimum training obligation. The current UK
seafarer population is heavily skewed towards the 45-60 year old
age group. This age distribution will improve forthwith as a result
of trainee recruitment under the minimum training obligation.
However, while overall numbers of UK seafarers will increase in
the long term, they are likely to continue to decline in the short
to medium term as a result of net losses arising from the retirement
of older seafarers.
The Government has not set formal targets for the
UK register because the primary policy focus is to regenerate
the maritime skills base. However, with the establishment of a
positive environment for shipping we would expect the size of
the UK register to double within 3 years. After years of decline
there is already positive evidence of growth. From December 1998,
when we published British Shipping - Charting a new course,
to March 2000 the number of trading vessels above 100 gross tonnes
increased from 378 totalling 2,699,000 dwt (deadweight tonnes)
to 392 vessels totalling 3,170,000 dwt. In the same period the
number of container ships increased from 25 vessels totalling
1,088,000 dwt to 42 vessels totalling 1,636,000 dwt and the number
of cruise ships from 9 vessels totalling 54,000 dwt to 11 vessels
totalling 71,000 dwt.
We are extremely concerned about the shortage
of aircraft maintenance engineers, both in the commercial and
the General Aviation sectors. We recommend that in its consideration
of the matter the Government's inter-departmental working group
should consider the situation in both sectors, and should urgently
take steps to address the problem (paragraph 60).
The inter-departmental working group has completed
its report. Its recommendations have been agreed by Ministers
and are now being taken forward. Chris Mullin wrote to the Chair
of the Transport Sub-Committee on 14 July 2000 enclosing a copy
of the full report. A summary of its conclusions and recommendations
has been distributed widely to UK airlines, maintenance organisations
We recommend that any further recommendations
that arise from investigations into the accidents involving Boeing
737s are rapidly implemented by British airlines. We further recommend
that the Safety Regulation Group should closely monitor the situation,
to ensure that all necessary steps to deal with the problem of
the aircraft's rudder are taken (paragraph 75).
The response set out in Cm 4539 sets out the policy
on recommendations arising from accident investigations. Safety
Regulation Group of the CAA continues to monitor the situation
on Boeing 737s closely. Since November 1999, the United States
Federal Aviation Administration has issued one Airworthiness Directive
related to the rudders of Boeing 737s, which the CAA has mandated
for UK-registered aircraft.
We are extremely concerned about the delay
in implementing the Transport Committee's recommendation to increase
the aisle through the forward bulkhead of the Boeing 737 in particular,
following the accident at Manchester airport. We recommend the
Safety Regulation Group take steps to expedite the matter (paragraph
The Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) have agreed
common standards for the design and construction of large passenger
aircraft registered in JAA Member States. A major design change
of the kind recommended for Boeing 737s is best achieved through
an amendment to the relevant Joint Aviation Requirement. The Civil
Aviation Authority (CAA) has always played a leading role in developing
harmonised European standards in the JAA and the Government is
committed to this process of promoting high, uniform safety standards.
It would undermine Government efforts to achieve high standards
if the UK were to take a unilateral, selective approach to applying
The JAA have agreed to consider a proposal put forward
by the CAA to increase the minimum gap width in bulkheads that
lead to floor level exits. This proposal is currently working
its way through the JAA rulemaking process. A specialist group
of the JAA is now in the final stages of reviewing comments on
the proposed rule change and its economic impact following a first
round of consultations which included strong CAA representation.
This review is, however, taking longer than expected to complete
because of difficulties experienced in technical and economic
areas. The CAA will take a major role in seeing this proposal
through. It is difficult to estimate a date when the change in
this rule will become operative. The final proposal will be subject
to arbitration by the Regulatory Advisory Panel of the JAA. If
they agree to the proposal - as being suitable for further rulemaking
advancement and without having to refer back to the specialist
JAA group - the operative date could be around early to mid 2001.
We recommend that before further steps are
taken to address the problem of disruptive passenger behaviour
or air rage, the Safety Regulation Group, together with the British
airlines, should urgently commission research to investigate its
cause (paragraph 90).
The new unified reporting scheme for incidents of
disruptive behaviour on board all UK aircraft rook effect on 1
April 1999. In February 2000 the Department sent to the Chair
of the Transport Sub-Committee a note summarising the returns
for the seven-month period April-October 1999. This showed that
whilst disruptive behaviour had not during that period presented
a significant risk to aviation safety, there was a certain amount
of anti-social behaviour on board aircraft, occasionally escalating
into serious incidents. 39 incidents during the period were judged
by the Civil Aviation Authority to be serious. In around half
of all incidents alcohol was identified or suspected as being
a contributory cause, whilst smoking when prohibited featured
in around one third of incidents. Figures now available for the
first full year of the reporting scheme indicate no significant
change in either the frequency or type of incidents compared to
the first seven months.
In the light of this information the Department's
Working Group, which includes representatives of the airlines,
the police and the Civil Aviation Authority, has taken the view
that there is no case at present for initiating further research
into the causes of disruptive behaviour, and is focusing its attention
on considering the merits of further legislation and/or other
preventative measures. The reporting scheme is continuing in operation,
and the Department and the Group will keep the situation under
We recommend that data on local bus and home
to school contract prices be kept centrally so that, in future,
trends can be analysed accurately (recommendation (c)).
Recent discussions with the Association of Transport
Co-ordinating Officers (ATCO) have focussed on their annual survey
of trends in tender prices, the next one of which is this autumn
and the results of which are made available to the Department.
We will review data requirements in the light of those discussions
and the outcome of this year's survey.
Tendering authorities must redouble their efforts
to stimulate competition for tenders by attracting new entrants
and bids from small operators and those outside their areas. The
DETR should co-ordinate the dissemination of best practice in
tendering amongst authorities and it should issue updated guidance
Our response to the Committee indicated that we had
already circulated an updated Guide to Good Practice. Recent discussions
with ATCO suggest that there is no need for further steps in the
short term, though we will continue to work with ATCO on this
The Office of Fair Trading must take its responsibilities
more seriously and take a much more active role in investigating
complaints in the future. We expect it to make full use of the
improved powers that it will have under the Competition Act 1998
and to pursue vigorously any operators who act in an anti-competitive
manner (recommendation (h).
This recommendation was addressed to the Office of
Fair Trading and not the DETR.
We recommend that a rigorous system of hazard
perception testing be introduced, as part of a computerised theory
test, without delay (paragraph 19).
Work is underway to ensure that hazard perception
testing can be incorporated within the theory part of the driving
test in 2002. A Project Group has been established and project
leader appointed. Activities such as scene writing has begun and
filming should start shortly to provide the video clips needed
for inclusion in the computer based theory test.
Attempting to alter the attitudes of young
people towards driving through education whilst they are still
at school will not rapidly lead to tangible results. Nevertheless,
given the contribution that irresponsibility and recklessness
make to the low safety standards of young and newly-qualified
drivers, we believe that a general change in attitudes towards
driving is essential. We therefore recommend that the National
Curriculum address road safety. The Curriculum should include
compulsory lessons which cover the physics of driving, the statistics
about the number of accidents involving young people, the penalties
for committing road traffic offences, and the consequences of
having an accident (paragraph 36).
The subgroup of the PSHE Advisory Group, which is
to look at the teaching of safety within Personal, Social and
Health Education, has been set up and has been asked to look at
the issues raised by the Committee, and at how materials might
be developed to allow schools to teach road safety as part of
the PSHE framework. The subgroup is to report to the main PSHE
Advisory Group in the autumn and guidance will be available for
schools early in 2001.
We recommend that the Government consult with
advertisers, as well as motor manufacturers, to ensure that irresponsible
advertising of cars is ended, and that advertisers seek to promote
safe driving. It should monitor car advertisements to ensure that
positive progress towards these ends is made (paragraph 39).
The depiction of cars in advertising and in TV programmes
has been discussed with the Society of Motor Manufactures and
Traders and the Independent Television Commission to encourage
the promotion of responsible road use messages.
We believe that for any system of tuition and
testing of drivers to be effective the penalty for not participating
in the system should be severe. We therefore recommend that the
Government should re-examine the penalty for driving without a
licence, and particularly the actual level of penalties imposed
by the Courts (paragraph 44).
A review of all road traffic penalties is underway.
The Government plans to issue a consultation document on the subject
as soon as possible.
We can see no way in which any driving licence
regime, even the existing regime, can be effectively enforced
unless carrying a licence whilst driving is made mandatory, and
the police are given powers to require that it be shown to them.
We therefore recommend that the Government re-examine the matter
The issue of mandatory carriage of driving licences
remains under review. However, when the Court Services and Criminal
Justices Bill becomes law later this year, DVLA will be empowered
to copy the driver database to the Police National Computer. The
information will then be accessible to the police for road traffic
enforcement purposes, 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
The Committee has asked for an update on relevant
recommendations made in this report, particularly in the light
of developments in water legislation in Europe and the UK and
of the 1999 Periodic Review.
Over the last two years, significant progress has
been made in establishing the framework for a long-term sustainable
improvement in the quality of the water environment. The new Water
Framework Directive should provide a well-targeted, strategic
instrument to protect and improve water quality with a welcome
focus on environmental outcomes as opposed to pre-determined levels
of treatment for sewage and other effluent. The Directive puts
the focus on the long-term survival of aquatic ecosystems, and
will deliver considerable environmental improvement and better
management of water resources. In parallel, the 1999 Periodic
Review of water company price limits between 2000 and 2005 in
England and Wales will allow for investment of over £5 billion
by the water companies in protecting the environment. An update
of the recommendations in the Environment Sub-Committee's memorandum
of inquiry into sewage treatment and disposal, in the light of
these developments, is below. Paragraph numbers relate to the
Government's response (Cm 4023).
Standards of sewage treatment (paragraphs 13-29)
The Government's position remains that the Urban
Waste Water Treatment Directive, the Bathing Water Directive and
the Shellfish Waters Directive should set the basic framework
for improving sewage treatment standards in the UK. The Urban
Waste Water Treatment Directive sets secondary sewage treatment
as the norm, with tertiary treatment provided where necessary.
In the period 2000-2005, £4.2 billion will be invested to
improve continuous and stormwater discharges. This investment
will include tertiary disinfective and/or nutrient-removal treatment
where justified, focussed on protecting the following main areas:
- Shellfish Waters.
The Government has taken very significant steps to protect shellfish
harvesting areas. In 1999 it increased the number of designated
shellfish waters in England from 17 (80 km²) to 93 (3,094
km²) and in Wales from 1 (54 km²) to 26 (441 km²).
- Bathing Waters. In
England the number of bathing waters for the 2000 bathing season
stands at 405, which includes 9 inland bathing waters. In Wales
the number of bathing waters for the 2000 bathing season stands
- Waters suffering from eutrophication or excessive
nitrate levels. In 1998, the Government
designated 47 new Sensitive Areas (Eutrophic) under the Urban
Waste Water Treatment Directive, as requiring protection to combat
eutrophication. The Environment Agency is now engaged in its survey
of waters for the next review of eutrophic sensitive areas to
be concluded in 2001. In addition, the Government is currently
considering recommendations from the Environment Agency for further
designations of Sensitive Areas (Nitrate), and expects to come
forward with additional designations in due course. The Periodic
Review also made provision for investment of £40m in improving
effluent discharges affecting sites designated under the Habitats
and Birds Directives, and other Sites of Special Scientific Interest
Disposal of sewage sludge to land (paragraphs
The use of untreated sewage sludge on land used for
growing food crops was phased out on a precautionary basis after
end December 1999 as set out in "The Safe Sludge Matrix"
agreed in December 1998 between Water UK, representing the UK
Water and Sewage Operators, and the British Retail Consortium
(BRC), representing major retailers. The Government plans to revise
the existing Regulations and Code of Practice in England during
2001 to introduce the "Matrix" provisions on
a statutory basis. The Regulations will also require sludge producers
to treat all sewage sludge recycled on agricultural land to grow
food crops to one of two stringent treatment standards to reduce
the potential for pathogens to be transferred into the food chain.
Provision for capital expenditure of £385m has been included
in the Periodic Review for 2000-2005 to meet these requirements.
Incineration of sewage sludge (paragraph 38)
Any new sewage sludge incinerators will be regulated
under the new Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control regime,
as will existing plant from 2005. The Waste Incineration Directive
- which lays down emission limits, operating conditions and monitoring
requirements - is likely to be adopted at the end of 2000. It
will apply to new plant 2 years after adoption and to existing
plant 5 years from adoption.
Sewer renewal (paragraphs 39-41)
The recent Periodic Review provides for £1 billion
to be spent over the years 2000-2005 to maintain the sewer networks
and reduce sewer flooding. This provides for a continuation of
current levels of capital maintenance activity at less cost to
the customer by taking into account improvements in efficiency
and the benefits of more accurately focused work by the companies
and improved techniques. OfWAT will continue to monitor the performance
of companies (through yearly returns which provide details of
expenditure in the previous year and activity levels) and will
take action where this falls below an acceptable level.
Combined Sewer Overflows
The recent Periodic Review will allow 3,800 unsatisfactory
intermittent discharges (over 80% of the total identified) to
be improved over the years 2000-2005. The Environment Agency in
consultation with sewage dischargers has agreed which overflows
should be prioritised. The Government has made it clear that unsatisfactory
intermittent discharges affecting bathing waters and shellfish
waters are to be given the highest priority in the accelerated
Recreational waters (paragraph
The Government previously reported that it had designated
9 inland bathing waters under the Bathing Water Directive in England
- the first such designations since adoption of the Directive.
Proposals for designating additional bathing waters are reviewed
annually. The Government has been considering views on the need
for protection of recreational users of waters that do not fall
within the scope of the existing Bathing Water Directive. This
will be taken into account in developing UK thinking on the forthcoming
revision of the Directive, which may make it more suitable for
application to recreational waters.
High Natural Dispersion Areas (HNDAs) (paragraph
The Government is pleased to report that in its guidance
to the regulator set out in "Raising the Quality - guidance
to the Director General of Water Services on the environmental
and quality objectives to be achieved by the water industry in
England and Wales 2000-2005", published on 23 September
1998, it announced the revocation of less sensitive areas (High
Natural Dispersion Areas) in England and Wales. As a result all
former candidate discharges for primary treatment will now get
Rat infestation (paragraph 50)
As previously proposed, the Government has now set
up a Working Group comprising the Local Government Association,
Water UK, Department of Health and MAFF. From meetings that have
taken place a number of useful initiatives have been developed
including the circulation of a joint protocol letter by Water
UK and the LGA dealing with rodent control in the public sewerage
system. The research study on baiting methods and current practices
of rodent control has been carried out on behalf of Water UK and
is expected to be published shortly.
Predicting the quality of bathing waters (paragraph
The Government's view remains that the temporal and
spatial variability of water quality, together with the influence
of external factors such as the weather, means that for many bathing
waters there are real difficulties in forecasting water quality
in a mechanistic sense, with sufficient reliability to be of use
to prospective bathers. However, it may be possible to characterise
beaches based on their local environment and track record and
to associate this with a broad level of risk of human infection
and the influence of sources of contamination in some circumstances.
In this context the Government notes with interest the progress
with development of systems that report the operation of intermittent
discharges and emergency overflows.
Public Health Laboratory Service Resourcing (paragraphs
In the light of a review of its financial position,
the PHLS will receive substantial increases to its funding from
2001/02. This is without prejudice to the outcome of the Communicable
Disease Strategy and any recommendations arising from that strategy
that might affect the PHLS.
Endocrine Disrupters (paragraphs 59-61)
Since July 1998 research funded by the Natural Environment
Research Council, the Environment Agency and the Department has
shown that effects related to endocrine disruption are occurring
in wild roach and gudgeon in a number of UK rivers. Further work
is currently looking at the population level impacts of the effects
seen in individual fish. In addition the Department and the Agency
are collaborating on research studies looking at the fate and
behaviour of steroids in the environment. A list of Government-funded
research related to endocrine disrupters was included in an October
1999 report by the Interdepartmental Group on Endocrine Disrupters.
The Environment Agency published its strategy "Endocrine
disrupters in the environment" in June 2000 which reviews
the current state of knowledge and sets out an integrated and
risk-based approach to addressing the issue. Earlier Government-funded
research identified natural and synthetic oestrogens as playing
an important role in causing endocrine disruption in fish. The
Agency intends to focus on these substances, and in test catchments
(high risk areas) it will look at the ecological impact of endocrine
disruption; options for reducing inputs including research into
waste water treatment options; and cost-benefit assessments. Development
of environmental quality standards for (total) steroids will also
Endocrine disrupters are also identified as a pollutant
that must be controlled under the Water Framework Directive. Specific
environmental quality standards may be set for endocrine disrupters
following proposals from the European Commission.
Most recommendations in this Report were rejected
because of the Government's view that there has been a decrease
in demand for allotments, and that there will be no increase as
suggested by the Committee. Is this still the Government's view?
It is still the Government's view that reductions
in the number of allotments have been due in large part to a decrease
in demand for allotments, that there are a large number of vacant
allotments, and that there is no evidence that an increase should
Whether the option of including provisions
relating to allotments has been considered in the context of recent
local authority legislation; if not why not; and whether the Government
sees any further possibility of legislation relating to allotments.
The Government considers that allotments already
enjoy adequate legal protection, and that an overhaul of allotment
legislation is not a priority. Instead, the Government aims to
provide greater safeguards against the disposal and development
of allotments, through revised planning policy guidance.
The number of allotments sites which the Secretary
of State has given consent to dispose of since March 1998; how
many he has refused consent; and precisely how local authorities
can demonstrate that they have taken steps to promote allotments.
The Secretary of State has given 150 consents for
the disposal of statutory allotment land since 25 March 1998 and
has refused consent in 2 cases. Consent decisions are made against
criteria aimed at ensuring that allotments which are needed are
not disposed - the allotment authority would need to demonstrate
that the allotment is not necessary, is surplus to requirement,
or is impractical to retain; that adequate alternative provision
will be made for any displaced plot holders; and the number of
people on the allotment waiting lists has been taken into account.
Allotments which have been granted disposal consents, therefore,
would have satisfied criteria, and mainly be in areas where there
is a lack of demand for them (the English Allotments Survey found
that there were over 33,000 vacant statutory allotment plots in
When faced with applications for disposal of allotment
land, local authorities may show that they have taken steps to
promote allotments by demonstrating that they have:
- actively publicised the availability of allotment
sites, by advertising such vacancies via:
- parish magazines, newsletters, and local
- notices on site, in libraries, community centres, council web-sites,
and other local information points;
- local radio and television;
- local allotment groups and societies; and
- consulted the National Society of Allotment and
Leisure Gardeners over applications to dispose of statutory allotment
What provisions relating to allotments have
been included in revised Planning Policy Guidance notes.
The Government is currently revising its Planning
Policy Guidance note 17: Sports and Recreation. The guidance will
provide clearer advice to local planning authorities on assessing
local needs for informal recreation space, such as allotments
and community gardens, and for developing plan policies to protect
such spaces from development and encouraging new provision where
there are deficiencies.
The drawing up and implementation of Best Practice
guidance for allotments, and, in particular, whether the DETR
will be funding the study which we understand the Local Government
Association is proposing to undertake on this subject.
DETR has agreed to contribute towards the cost of
preparing a good practice guide for allotments to be prepared
by the Local Government Association.
Section 19 of the Local Government Act 1999 provides
for the Secretary of State to specify by order, in relation to
best value authorities, matters which will cease to be 'non-commercial'
for the purposes of Part II of the Local Government Act.
Part II of the Local Government Act 1988 prevents
authorities from discriminating against particular contractors
by introducing political or irrelevant considerations into the
contractual process. It achieves this by defining certain matters
as 'non commercial' and prohibiting authorities from having regard
to these matters in the contractual process.
It is apparent that the broad range of specified
' non commercial' matters, set out at section 17(5) of the 1988
Act, includes workforce matters which may affect a contractor's
ability to deliver a contract. The relevant matters, as set out
in the 1988 Act, are:
- The terms and conditions of employment by contractors
of their workforces or the composition of, the arrangements for
the promotion, transfer or training of or other opportunities
afforded to, their workforces ( section 17(5) (a); and
- The conduct of contractors or workers in industrial
disputes between them (section 17(5) (d)
Authorities will rightly want to be able to consider
these matters where they affect directly the cost and quality
of services to the extent permitted by EU Procurement Rules.
The Government therefore is working on proposals
to amend Part II of the Local Government Act 1988 to allow for
proper consideration of workforce matters in contracting where
relevant to the achievement of Best Value and also in circumstances
where the requirements of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection
of Employment) Regulations 1981 are to be applied. They will not
however relax the restriction on those matters that can be said
to be truly 'non-commercial'.
The proposals have been developed with the encouragement
and collaboration of the Local Government Social Partners (a partnership
between local government, trade unions and business) who have
been keen to see a genuine culture change under Best Value, delivering
the combined benefits of service improvements, employee protection
and fair competition.
A full consultation exercise, scoping views through
the publication of draft guidance Best Value and Procurement:
Handling of Workforce Matters in Contracting received 120
detailed responses and closed on 26 May 2000. A wide range of
interest groups including: local authorities, voluntary organisations,
trade unions and the private sector responded to the consultation
exercise and voiced widespread support for amending Part II of
the Local Government Act 1988.
In light of responses to the consultation exercise
and internal discussions Government is currently amending the
draft guidance with a view to laying the necessary Order when
Parliament returns from summer recess in late October 2000.
The Government expect to publish revised draft Hedgerows
Regulations for statutory consultation later this year.
We will consider whether legislative protection shoud
be extended to other field boundaries after we have evaluated
up to date information on their state from Countryside Survey
2000. These survey results will be available towards the end of
the year and we shall return to this matter then.
The latest position concerning the maximum acceptable
width for field margins, when included in whole field area claims
for area aid under the Integrated Administration and Control System
(IACS), is set out in a Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and
Food news release 265/00 dated 31 July 2000. The Ministry believes
that it is near to agreement with the EU Commission on an approach
that would allow hedges and other types of field margin to be
treated in broadly the same way as in previous years. Although
some of the details have yet to be finalised, MAFF is confident
that a change in the rules which would enable this approach to
be adopted will be agreed in the early autumn.
Detailed guidance will be issued to farmers once
the new rules are in place. In the meantime, the Ministry's preliminary
advice to farmers who are preparing their land for next year's
harvest is that they should do so on the basis that they are likely
to be able to include hedges and other field margins in next year's
claims for area-linked payments in the same way as they have done
in previous years.
Whether the Government still rejects the recommendation
that Regional Planning Guidance should take precedence over RDA
strategies (paragraph 18).
The Government maintains its rejection. Regional
Planning Guidance and Regional Strategies are complementary documents
and it is inappropriate to talk in terms of one taking precedence
over the other.
Whether the Government envisages the RDAs taking
over the role of the Government Offices on the Programme Monitoring
Committees in relation to distributing European Structural Funds.
The Government Offices are continuing to manage the
Structural Funds Programme with the RDAs and the wider partnership
developing the strategy of the programme. Ministers will review
the proposed future role of the RDAs in Structural Funds programmes
in the Autumn.
It is still not clear on what basis the Government
decides to allocate budgets between RDAs. It would be helpful
to know whether the Government intends to make public the criteria
on which these decisions are made (paragraph 50).
Clarity in the allocation method for resources between
the nine Regional Development Agencies has been frustrated by
having a large number of inherited programmes each with an individual
allocation method. The Spending Review 2000 decisions on bringing
the programmes into a single budget, additional resources and
a strengthened economic regeneration role for the RDAs, will facilitate
a fresh, comprehensive allocation method that should be much clearer.
It will be developed in consultation with the RDAs and apply to
2002-03 onwards. Until then the allocation method will necessarily
be based on the individual programmes.
11 Government Interdepartmental Group on Endocrine
Disrupters Report of activities between November 1995 and May
1999 (DETR, October 1999) Back