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Subject to parliamentary approval, the order would give effect to the Government's proposal to increase the maximum limits of candidates' election expenses for the City of London ward elections and elections by liverymen in common hall in line with changes in the value of money since the limits were last set in March 1997.
We have also placed in the House Library a summary of the responses, including those from the Electoral Commission and other key stakeholders, we received from a consultation on the draft instrument.
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The Minister for Local and Regional Government (Mr. Nick Raynsford): My right hon. Friends the Deputy Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs are jointly publishing today the Government response to the Electoral Commission's report "Delivering Democracy?"
The commission also found that voters wanted have choice about the way they vote. This is consistent with the Government's long term goal of multi-channel elections, including voters having the options of electronic, postal voting and voting in person.
We are not, however, persuaded by the commission's arguments that all-postal voting should not be pursued at UK elections. These are not supported by the outcome of the June elections, where turnout was substantially higher in the pilot regions and a large majority found the all-postal method acceptable. Furthermore, the turnout achieved in the north-east regional referendum underlined the value of all-postal voting in increasing participation.
In its report, the commission proposes the development of a new model of voting. We welcome the opportunity to contribute to this work and will have regard to the progress of this work when assessing any new proposals for all-postal voting.
The Electoral Commission also indicated that it would not support pilots in May 2005 (or any at all until the new model is in use). We have decided not to issue a prospectus inviting applications for pilots in the county council elections in May 2005. It remains, however, open, at any time, to local authorities to apply to run all-postal pilots. The Government remain committed to a programme of electoral pilots in 2006 and subsequent years, including e-voting pilots.
The Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education (Dr. Kim Howells):
The level of support available to students in the academic year 200506 will be 2.5 per cent. higher than for 200405, in line with forecast price increases. I am placing two memoranda in the Library giving details of the new loan, grant and fee rates for 200506. Those rates set out in memorandum 1 will be incorporated in the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2005, which will cover support for eligible students under the current arrangements. Those set out in memorandum 2 will be
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incorporated in the Education (Mandatory Awards) Amendment Regulations 2005 and the Education (Student Loans) Amendment Regulations 2005, which will cover the very small number of students who in 200506 will still be receiving awards and loans under the pre-1998 arrangements. These regulations will all be laid before Parliament in due course.
The Minister for the Environment and Agri-environment (Mr. Elliot Morley): The Government is today publishing for consultation the draft Waste Management (England and Wales) Regulations 2005. The main purposes of the draft regulations, and the associated draft commencement order, are (a) to repeal the exclusion in section 75(7)(c) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990; and (b) to apply to agricultural waste, and to non-mineral waste from mines and quarries, the national controls that are already in place to comply with the waste framework directive (75/442/EEC as amended by 91/156/EEC and Commission decision 96/350/EC) and the landfill directive (1999/31/EC).
The exclusion in section 75(7)(c) of the 1990 Act is the subject of infraction proceedings and the European Commission has applied to the European Court of Justice for a declaration that it contravenes the waste framework directive. The exclusion is also the subject of infraction on the landfill directive. The Government has accepted that the exclusion contravenes the directives and has given a commitment to repeal it and to introduce, after consultation, the regulations necessary:
The main subject of the draft regulations is agricultural waste. At present, most agricultural waste is disposed of on-farm in an unregulated wayby open burning, by burial or by disposal in "farm dumps". The objective of the draft regulations is to ensure that agricultural waste is managed and recovered or disposed of in ways which protect the environment and human health. The controls will be enforced by the Environment Agency, as the "competent authority" in England and Wales, in ways which are proportionate to the risk to the environment and human health. The existing controls have applied to all other sectors of industry and types of waste since May 1994 in the case of the waste framework directive; and since June 2002 in the case of the landfill directive.
The Government proposes to make the regulations under section 2 of the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 and the consultation is being carried out in compliance with section 2(4) of the Act. The draft regulations fulfil the commitments made by the Government in the Action Plan For Farming which is available on my Department's website at http://www._defra.gov.uk/farm/agendtwo/strategv/action.htm; and
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they have been developed in consultation with the Agricultural Waste Stakeholders' Forum whose membership and terms of reference are available at www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/agforum/index.htm.
The draft regulations are being published for a 14-week consultation period with responses being invited by 18 March 2005. The consultation paper includes a partial regulatory impact assessment. A summary of the consultation paper, with a pull-out questionnaire, is being sent to 162,000 farmers and growers in England and Wales. Both the consultation paper and the summary are available on my Department's website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/default.asp.
The Government has agreed to provide up to £l million over 20052008 from the business resource efficiency and waste (BREW) programme to help improve the sustainability of agricultural waste management following the application of the directives' controls to the agricultural industry.
(a) To ensure continuing compliance with the waste framework directive following the repeal of the animal waste directive (90/667/EEC) and the introduction of the EU Animal By-Products Regulation ((EC) No. 1774/2002) which lays down health rules concerning animal by-products not intended for human consumption. The proposed amendments apply to animal by-products which are waste within the meaning of article l(a) of the waste framework directive and are not excluded from the directive's scope under article 2; and
(b) To repeal regulation 15 of the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 and to amend the Groundwater Regulations 1998 to bring waste management licensing into line with other types of "authorisations" for the purposes of complying with the groundwater directive (80/68/EEC).
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