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25 Feb 2004 : Column 425W—continued

Service Medals

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will reassess the eligibility criteria for the award of gallantry medals in relation to operations in Iraq. [144012]

Mr. Caplin [holding answer 15 December 2003]: The eligibility criteria for the award of gallantry medals are a matter for the Committee on the Grant of Honours,

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Decorations and Medals. The Committee advises Her Majesty the Queen on all matters to do with honours and awards. The Committee has not been asked to consider any changes to the eligibility criteria.


European Council of Finance Ministers

Mr. Hood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the outcome was of the ECOFIN Council held on 10 February; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [154893]

Mr. Gordon Brown: I attended ECOFIN on 10 February.

ECOFIN discussed preparation for the Spring Council on 25–26 March. There was broad agreement that further action was needed to reduce the European regulatory burden, promote investment and innovation and improve European labour market flexibility. ECOFIN therefore mandated the Economic Policy Committee (EPC) and the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC) to produce a key issues paper for the spring European Council for adoption at the 9 March ECOFIN.

It was agreed that the next ECOFIN would start with a breakfast discussion of the four Presidencies regulatory reform initiative. I presented the Government's White Paper on the European Economic Reform 1 , stressing that while important reforms had been undertaken, a lot of work remained to be done. ECOFIN also adopted conclusions on the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines Implementation Report and endorsed the EPC report on structural reform.

On the Savings Tax Directive, the Commission reported on the progress of its negotiations with Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, San Marino and Switzerland. ECOFIN unanimously supported the Commission's negotiating position and agreed not to accept any further counter-requests. The Council also unanimously agreed that the agreement negotiated with Switzerland should be concluded without further delay.

No votes were taken at the meeting.

Financial Instruments

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on its use of derivatives and related financial instruments. [155560]

Ruth Kelly: The Government uses derivatives to manage interest rate and foreign exchange risk associated with some of its activities. These instruments may include equity swaps, FRAs, exchange rate forwards, currency and interest rate swaps, as well as interest rate futures. The Government does not use these instruments to speculate in the financial markets.

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Tax Credits

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people (a) have taken-up and (b) are entitled to tax credit in (i) the North West, (ii) Lancashire and (iii) Chorley. [156130]

Dawn Primarolo: The estimated number of families receiving the Child and/or Working Tax Credits in (i) the North West, (ii) Lancashire and (iii) Chorley at 5 January 2004 is shown in "Child and Working Tax Credit Statistics, Geographical analyses—January 2004", which is on the Inland Revenue website at The estimates are based on a sample of cases, and are subject to sampling uncertainty.


Abandoned Vehicles

Jeff Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many abandoned vehicles have been recovered in South Yorkshire in each of the last three years. [155017]

Mr. Morley: The information requested for the local authorities in South Yorkshire is given in the following table.

Number of abandoned vehicles collected in thefinancial year
Local authority2000–012001–02
Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council248549
Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council4101,313
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council150410
Sheffield City Council1001,421

Information on the number of vehicles abandoned was collected for the first time in the 2000–01 Municipal Waste Management Survey. 2001–02 is the most recent year for which data is available from the survey.

Air Pollution

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what aircraft pollution monitoring arrangements are in place in the vicinity of Heathrow airport; and who operates each site. [154472]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 11 February 2004]: The following three air quality monitoring stations in the vicinity of Heathrow airport are part of Defra's Automatic Air Quality Urban and Rural Monitoring Network (AURN):

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These stations measure pollution arising from all sources not just aircraft and provide information on the overall pollutant concentrations to which residents in the area are exposed. Data from all three of these stations are quality assured to national standards.

Further information on these stations, data summaries and hour-by-hour pollutant concentrations can be found at (the site at Harlington is in the process of being incorporated into this system).

In addition, BAA and local authorities in the vicinity of Heathrow airport operate the following air quality monitoring stations at: Slough Town Hall; Slough, Colnbrook; Hillingdon, South Ruislip; Hillingdon Hospital; Hounslow, Cranford; Hounslow, Chiswick High Rd; and BAA Heathrow, LHR2 site close to northern airport runway.

Information about air quality in the vicinity of Heathrow airport can also be found at www.

Asbestos Cement Pipes

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance her Department offers on the use of asbestos cement pipes to carry drinking water. [155786]

Mr. Morley: Asbestos pipes have been used extensively by the water industry without giving rise to any quality problems. However, the Drinking Water Inspectorate issued an information letter on behalf of the Secretary of State, which reminded water companies of the Asbestos (Prohibitions) (Amendment) Regulations 1999 (SI 1999 No. 2373). These Regulations effectively precluded the use of new asbestos cement pipes to carry drinking water, because of health and safety issues associated with cutting the material, not because of any concerns about possible effects of asbestos pipes on drinking water quality.

Aviation Emissions

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of the Government's target figure of carbon dioxide emissions in 2050 she estimates will be taken up by aviation emissions. [151195]

Mr. Morley: The Government estimate that domestic and international aviation emissions could account for 20–25 per cent. of UK carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. This calculation assumes that the 60 per cent. goal specified in the Energy White Paper for the domestic economy is achieved. If international aviation were to be

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included in the 60 per cent. goal emissions from other sectors would have to be around 15–20 per cent. below their Energy White Paper target to compensate.

This calculation is based on an assumption of three new runways in the south east and does not reflect the impact of any economic instruments. It further assumes that emissions from all international departures from the UK are allocated to the UK inventory, as there is as yet no international agreement on ways of allocating international aviation emissions.

The above figures do not include the radiative forcing effect which emissions from aviation have at altitude, which are 2–4 times greater than that from carbon dioxide alone.

Carbon Sinks

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the environmental benefits accruing from the ability of (a) sugar beet and (b) other crops to act as carbon sinks. [155664]

Mr. Morley: Separate estimates for sugar beet are not available but research sponsored by the Department suggests that an upper limit of 0.14 million tonnes carbon per year (Mt C/year) is accumulating in crop biomass as a whole in the UK, mainly as a result of increases in crop yield. This is small compared with the amount of carbon that is sequestered by forests, which is currently around 3 Mt C/year.

Agriculture and forestry sectors probably contribute most effectively to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through the production of energy crops and wood fuel by displacing use of fossil fuels.

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