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Mr. Darling: The then DETR reported on available estimates of environmental costs in "Valuing the External Costs of Aviation", which was published in December 2000. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Darling: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change provides forecasts of carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft over the next 20 years and beyond for a range of scenarios. They can be found in figure 1 on page 6 of their report "Aviation and the Global Atmosphere" (1999). These estimates are generally accepted to be the best currently available.
Mr. Darling: Specific information on fuel efficiency of aircraft using UK airports is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Aviation industry representatives estimate that global fuel consumption per passenger kilometre has been reduced by about 60 per cent. since 1970, largely through improvements in engine and airframe technology. Reasons for these improvements include more stringent standards as well as commercial initiatives.
Mr. Darling: National Air Traffic Services (NATS) is subject to price regulation by the RPI-X method, which is the standard model for monopoly regulation in the United Kingdom. The charge cap, or "X" factor, for the first five
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years of the public private partnership (PPP) was set by the Government, in the light of advice received from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The CAA's advice on the charge cap was based on a well-considered and comprehensive analysis of NATS' operational and investment plans and the potential for efficiency savings. The advice fully reflected the Government's, and the CAA's, commitment to giving the highest priority to safety.
The CAA recommended that the "X" factor for NATS' UK monopoly services be set at 5 per cent. per year for each of the first five years. The Government considered this advice carefully, alongside representations from NATS and the projections of bidders for the NATS PPP, and decided to set charge capping at 2.2 per cent. for 2001, 3.0 per cent. for 2002, 4.0 per cent. for 2003, and 5.0 per cent. for each of 2004 and 2005.
Furthermore, since delays are a major concern to airlines, the Government decided that the charge cap should include a delay term, so that the "X" factor would automatically tighten, thereby reducing NATS' revenues, if delays increased.
In reaching these decisions, the Government was concerned to achieve a smooth transition to the PPP and to enable NATS' management to focus on getting the change and investment programmes right during the early years of the PPP.
Mr. Darling: The number of passengers using UK airports has increased from 35 mppa in 1971 to 180 mppa in 2001. This corresponds to an average annual increase of 5.9 per cent. in passengers using UK airports over this 30 year period.
Mr. Spellar: My Department is considering the implementation of a national type approval procedure for all buses, including minibuses, by the end of 2003, as part of a current review of bus and coach construction and use requirements. Checks of seat belt installation would be part of that procedure.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he will take to ensure that an (a) anti-lock braking system and (b) tachograph will be a mandatory safety feature for new buses. 
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Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures his Department intends to introduce to (a) strengthen vehicle licensing controls and (b) improve the traceability of the owners of abandoned cars. 
Mr. Spellar: The Government is actively pursuing measures to improve the accuracy of the vehicle record, which would enable the authorities to trace more easily the keepers of abandoned cars, as well as those involved in crime.
The Finance Bill currently before Parliament includes enabling powers for changes to vehicle taxation, making possible a system of continuous registration which will ensure that the registered keeper of a vehicle cannot avoid responsibility for licensing it. There will be consultation with the motor trade and motorists' groups before any changes are implemented. The legislation will not affect the current system of Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) under which keepers who tell DVLA that they are taking their vehicles off the road are not obliged to tax them.
The Government has also recently announced that it has set up a Modernising Vehicle Registration Implementation Board which will take forward work on the recommendations of a review of the vehicle registration system that the Department undertook in partnership with the insurance industry.
Mr. Anthony D. Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he intends to designate East Midlands airport under section 80 for the purposes of section 78 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982, in order to impose restrictions on night flying there. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Secretary of State was asked by North West Leicestershire district council (and by others) to designate this airport in order to impose night restrictions using the powers by which operational noise is currently regulated at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports.
I have written to the council to inform them that the Secretary of State has decided, after careful consideration, not to designate the airport. Following local discussions, the airport management has produced its own proposals, to which it is committed, for the control of noise including night noise. The Secretary of State is satisfied that these controls are sufficient in all the circumstances of the case, including the broad long-standing policy that noise controls should be settled locally where possible, such that designation is not appropriate for the present.
I encourage East Midlands airport, as well as other airports, to continue discussions in consultation with local stakeholders, and to keep their noise control regulations under review with the aim of minimizing noise nuisance from the airport's legitimate operations.
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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the mandate of the Committee on Experts on the Transit of Natural Gas through Grids is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if he will list the items currently under its consideration; if he will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if he will make a statement. 
The mandate of the Committee is to conciliate in disputes between network operators over conditions for the use of gas transit pipelines, as set out in Article 3 of Council Directive 91/296/EEC of 31 May 1991 on the transit of natural gas through grids.
The Committee has not met in the past 12 months. The UK representation is provided by Lattice Group plc. There is no UK public funding of this Committee. There are no items currently under consideration by the Committee.
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