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Ministerial Meetings (Scottish Parliament)

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he last met the Scottish Minister for Transport; and what issues were discussed. [29483]

Mr. Jamieson: The Secretary of State met Wendy Alexander, the Scottish Minister for Transport, on Wednesday 16 January. A number of issues were discussed including the SRA Strategic Plan, the ScotRail franchise, and the recent industrial action on the Scottish railways.

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Wind Power

Jim Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what his policy is relating to guidance to district councils concerning the grant of planning consent for siting smaller wind turbines (a) singularly and in pairs, (b) in the support of farmers seeking to diversify through earning revenue through wind power generation and (c) to local communities for local power generation for the benefit of the community. [29283]

Ms Keeble: Guidance on planning policy for renewable energy is set out in PPG 22. This provides local planning authorities with guidance on a range of issues that affect the siting of renewable energy projects, including the siting of one or two wind turbines.

English Partnerships

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what consultations are taking place over the future of English Partnerships. [29388]

Ms Keeble: As part of stage one of the current review of English Partnerships, a range of EP's partners and stakeholders, including the regional development agencies, have been consulted. Consultations have also taken place with groups of staff from English Partnerships and with the management of the organisation.

A dedicated e-mail address has also been set up to encourage comments from anyone interested in the review.

Rail Delays

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will publish the total weekly rail delays, in minutes, for each week from 1 May 1997 to 21 January 2002, broken down to show delays (a) attributable to Railtrack and (b) attributable to train operating companies; and if he will make a statement. [27054]

Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 22 January 2002]: The information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Local Government Expenditure Review

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will publish the timetable for the review of local government expenditure. [29328]

Dr. Whitehead: We will implement reform of the local government grant distribution system in time for setting out the provisional 2003–04.

Rail Industry (EU Guidelines)

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what guidance he has given to the Strategic Rail Authority on the implications of the European Council's Broad Guidelines of the Economic Policies of the Member States and the Community on the future structure of the rail industry. [29121]

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Mr. Byers: The Government's policies, including those of the Strategic Rail Authority, are consistent with these Broad Guidelines.


Stolen Equipment

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Solicitor-General what equipment has been stolen from her Department since 1 May 1997; and what the approximate value of each item was. [26840]

The Solicitor-General: I am not aware of any departmental equipment being stolen from the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers since 1 May 1997.

The details of other Departments for which the Attorney-General is responsible are as follows:


YearEquipmentValued at
Crown Prosecution Service
1998–991 computer2,000.00
1 laptop computer800.00
1999–20002 computers 4,000.00
1 laptop computer2,842.00
1 computer and printer2,700.00
2000–011 mobile telephone170.00
2001–021 mobile telephone150.00
Treasury Solicitor's Department
19971 date stamp and pad2.07
1 calculator5.50
Computer memory chips1,144.36
19981 mobile telephone95.00
3 dictaphone machines196.00
20011 mobile telephone174.00
1 laptop computer850.00
Serious Fraud Office
20001 mobile telephone65.00
20012 mobile telephones130.00
1 laptop computer1,600.00

Saville Inquiry

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Solicitor-General what costs have been incurred by her Department in connection with the Saville inquiry; and what her estimate is of the final cost to her Department. [29066]

The Solicitor-General: The Departments for which the Attorney-General answers in Parliament are the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office and the Treasury Solicitor's Department, as well as his own Department, the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers.

The Crown Prosecution Service and the Serious Fraud Office have not incurred any costs in connection with the Bloody Sunday inquiry and do not expect to do so.

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The Treasury Solicitor's Department carries out legal work for other Departments, such as the Ministry of Defence, on a full cost recovery basis. While substantial work has been done by the Treasury Solicitor's Department in relation to the inquiry, in so far as that work is directly connected with the inquiry, the cost will be recovered or has been recovered from the client Department or Departments represented. The Treasury Solicitor's Department has provided representation before the inquiry for two ex-members of staff. The cost of this representation, which has been borne by the Department, is approximately £15,500.

The Attorney-General and lawyers in both the Treasury Solicitor's Department and the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers will, in the normal course of their duties, have been called upon to give advice on certain matters arising as a result of the Bloody Sunday inquiry. In so far as these costs can be assessed, an approximate figure would be £70,500. No assessment can be made of what the final cost may be as it will depend on whether further advice or assistance is sought or becomes necessary.


Wind Power Generators

Jim Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much of the EU grant aid has been issued to farmers in Objective 1 areas for siting small scale wind power generators; and what steps her Department is taking to ease access to these funds. [29285]

Alan Johnson: No EU grant aid from the structural funds has been issued to farmers for siting small scale wind power generators in Objective 1 areas.

The Department's website has information on the structural funds and potential sources of match funding. The website of each Government office in the regions gives details of the programmes for the region. These sites also contain advice on how applications can be made.

Consumer Protection

Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to review consumer protection laws in relation to internet purchasing of goods and services. [26076]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Existing consumer protection laws, such as the Distance Selling Regulations and the Sale of Goods legislation, apply equally to internet purchasing as when shopping on the high street. In November 2001 I launched a campaign with my hon. Friend the Minister for E-Commerce and Competitiveness to raise awareness of consumer rights when e-shopping and to demonstrate that internet shopping is safe as long as shoppers follow basic guidelines.

Consumer protection laws will be reviewed to ensure, in compliance with the E-Commerce Directive, that they do not prevent contracts being concluded by electronic means. The E-Commerce Directive will also create some additional safeguards for those purchasing goods and services online.

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Radioactive Waste (North-East Atlantic)

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the minimum length of time the isotopes deposited west of Land's End in the 1960s and 1970s will remain radioactive. [27190]

Mr. Meacher: I have been asked to reply.

Radioactive waste was deposited at several locations in the north-east Atlantic during the 1960s and 1970s. This waste contained many different radioactive isotopes with widely varying rates of decay. For example, plutonium-239 (Pu-239) has a half-life of around 24,000 years, whereas tritium (H-3) has a half-life of 12.3 years. In view of this, it is not possible to make a single estimate of the length of time that the material will remain radioactive. Details of the radionuclides which the material contained are included in the "Report of the Independent Review of Disposal of Radioactive Waste in the North East Atlantic" (HMSO, 1984), copies of which are available in the Library of the House.

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