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Carbon Dioxide Emissions

9. Ms Celia Barlow (Hove) (Lab): What steps he is taking to ensure carbon dioxide emissions are reduced in the transport sector. [34468]

11. Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde) (Con): What steps his Department is taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all forms of transport. [34470]

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Alistair Darling): I recently announced the renewable transport fuels obligation that will reduce emissions by a million tonnes of carbon, equivalent to taking a million cars off the road. The Government have introduced several other measures to reduce emissions and we are working to bring aviation within the EU emissions trading scheme. That, as I said a few moments ago, has been accepted by Ministers across the European Union.

Ms Barlow: I welcome my right hon. Friend's recent announcement on the renewable transport fuel obligation. However, I am concerned that we should do more to reduce the effects of carbon emissions and transport. Coastal constituencies such as mine in Hove and Portslade would, after all, be badly affected by rising sea levels. Can my right hon. Friend explain why the requirement has been set at 5 per cent. of all fuels sold in the UK by 2010?
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Mr. Darling: We chose 5 per cent. because at that level the fuel can be supplied to the existing fleet of cars, without any alterations being made. If the amount of biofuels is increased beyond that, it would begin to become necessary to adapt car engines and also, at some stage, the pumps that supply the petrol. However, my hon. Friend may be interested to know that there is a pilot scheme starting in the west country next year with which the Ford Motor company is involved, which will be selling biofuels of up to, I think, 85 per cent., which is fairly common in Sweden, for example, and it will be interesting to see how those trials progress.

Mr. Jack: In his reply, the Secretary of State mentioned emissions from road vehicles and from aviation, but he did not mention discharges of greenhouse gases from shipping. What steps are the Government taking to extend their thinking on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from Britain's merchant fleet and to conduct such thinking on a wider-world basis?

Mr. Darling: The right hon. Gentleman is correct in that ships burn particularly heavy fuels, which account for substantial emissions. However, there are many fewer ships than other forms of transport, which reduces the scale of their contribution. Another complication is whatever we do must comply with our international obligations, which, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will recall, are complex. I am not unsympathetic to his point, but I cannot promise him anything immediately.

Mr. Clive Betts (Sheffield, Attercliffe) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend consider the effects of pollution on residential areas that are close to motorways? In particular, there are plans to widen the M1 in South Yorkshire, and the residential area of Tinsley is close to that motorway. Will my right hon. Friend consider the results of experiments conducted in the Netherlands, where a 50 mph speed limit was trialled on motorways in residential areas? Pollution levels fell substantially as a result of those experiments, with great benefits to the people who live next door to those motorways.

Mr. Darling: We will, of course, examine the environmental impact, as we are required to do by existing European directives. I am aware of measures that have been taken in different parts of the world, but we have not reached a decision on widening the M1.


The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was asked—


20. David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): What recent representations he has received on the extent of his powers of patronage. [34452]
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Cabinet Office (Mr. Jim Murphy): The Duchy office has received no representations on the extent of the powers of patronage held by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The Courts Act 2003 ended important powers on the appointment of magistrates.

David Taylor: In May this year, the then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster reputedly used his power of eminence bleu patronage to secure a peerage and ministerial post for an unelected No. 10 adviser, Andrew Adonis, who was the progenitor of privatised city academies and the author of the barmier ideas in the recent education White Paper, including divisive and elitist trust schools. Given that track record, does the Minister agree that the next Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster should divest herself—[Hon. Members: "Oh."]—of every scintilla of patronage and influence on Government appointments at a very early stage in her career?

Mr. Murphy: I thank my hon. Friend for that helpful question and that vote of confidence. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster takes responsibility on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen as patron, either solely or jointly, of 42 Church livings. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster also presents suitable candidates to the bishop of the diocese and has power over ancient livings. I have been informed that there are two such livings in Leicestershire—one in Whitwick and one in Thringstone. The living in Thringstone is currently vacant, and I will do all that I can in conjunction with my ministerial colleagues to suggest that a suitable candidate is sitting on the Back Benches.

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): I am glad that the sole incumbent of the Cabinet Office believes that the ancient livings patronage is in good hands. Does he believe that consideration by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster of matters such as patronage might interfere with other duties, such as control and responsibility for the Civil Contingencies Secretariat? Might not people in this country be rather surprised that nobody has been in charge of emergency planning during what we are told is a war on terrorism for nearly five weeks?

Mr. Murphy: That point was made recently in another place. The Civil Contingencies Secretariat is closely monitored and works in partnership with Ministers across Government. The Home Secretary is the lead Minister responsible for a lot of the responses to emergency crises and contingencies. I shall take this opportunity to thank those involved in that secretariat for their fantastic work with Ministers across Government.

Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle) (Lab): Unfortunately, we have to live with the curse of patronage. There are 30,000 public appointments, many of the most important of which—the chairman of the BBC, for example—are made using patronage powers. Before such appointments are made, would it not be a good idea to have confirmation hearings, here in the House of Commons, along the lines of those in the Senate?

Mr. Murphy: If we were to subject all those appointments to some sort of confirmation process in the House of Commons—
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Mr. Prentice: Not all of them—the most important ones.

Mr. Murphy: The Government are not attracted to that suggestion. We have set up a process according to which there is an independent commissioner for public appointments and all appointments are made in line with that code of practice. There is also a new House of Lords Appointments Commission. I think that we have got the balance about right as regards the way in which these matters are handled. However, if my hon. Friend has specific suggestions about some of the detail, ministerial colleagues and I would be happy to listen to him.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): Does the Minister recall that before the general election we had a separate Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, both at great public expense that was not revealed until after the election was over? Now that it is no longer required to pay so much money to someone to run a general election campaign, does the Minister accept that it is likely that the Prime Minister will use his patronage to appoint new Ministers to the Duchy of Lancaster and the Cabinet Office rather more slowly than my hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron) will use his powers of patronage to appoint an entire new Front-Bench team?

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) (Lab): What did they do with the Short money?

Mr. Murphy: The hon. Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis) has made that point on numerous occasions. The Cabinet Office continues to work on the agenda of better regulation, civil contingencies, transformation in Government public services, and modernisation, regardless of how many Ministers are in the Cabinet Office.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr.   Skinner), as ever, offers good advice from a sedentary position as regards the use of public finances for political purposes. There has been a vast increase in the amount of Short money used for the Conservative Opposition, spent entirely ineffectively, unaccountably and with no discernible outcome. In future, we should cast a more careful eye over the way in which taxpayers' money is used to subsidise unpopular political parties.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): To return to ecclesiastical livings—not that I have any intention of doing so myself—is it not a bit of a 19th-century anachronism still to have a politician involved in the appointment of people to livings? In fact, it is not even 19th century, but 17th century or 16th century. We might even end up with a Roman Catholic or an atheist naming people to Church of England livings. Would not that be a little curious? Is not this a load of old Trollope that we should put an end to?

Mr. Murphy: I do not wear my faith on my sleeve but, as a Roman Catholic, I am interested in that suggestion. My hon. Friend is right to say that this is part of an historical tradition. It dates back not to the 19th century but to the time of the English civil war and other periods of English history. We are in a process of continued
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modernisation across Government. In the Courts Act 2003, we surrendered important powers in the appointment of magistrates. I suspect that the new Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, perhaps in conjunction with my hon. Friend, may wish to consider some detailed continued modernisation of those historical—some would say quaint—powers.

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