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Genetically Modified Foods

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations she has received on the cultivation of genetically modified foods; and if she will make a statement. [63624]

Mr. Morley: Over recent weeks Defra has received representations on various issues to do with GM crops. These include the coexistence of GM and non-GM crops, the ongoing WTO case on GMOs, and the use of Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs).

Scout Moor Windfarm

Janet Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of whether the development of the Scout Moor windfarm will meet the provisions of the Commons Bill in respect of the protection of and public access to common land. [63419]

Jim Knight: These applications are made under section 147 of the Inclosure Act 1845. Consideration is given under these provision to the effect of the exchange on the general public's legal right of access over the land. The future provisions in the Commons Bill are not relevant.

Water Industry Act

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the operation of section 76 of the Water Industry Act 1991. [64215]

Mr. Morley: Section 76 of the Water Industry Act 1991, allows water companies to ban or restrict the use of hosepipes to water private gardens or wash private motor cars. Powers can be used if a company believes there is a serious risk to the amount of water available for distribution to customers.

A water company imposing a ban or restriction has to give public notice before it comes into force, including details of when it will take effect. Anyone who contravenes a ban or restriction could be fined.

Water Leakage Rates

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action has been taken to reduce leakage rates from water pipes in (a) Southend, (b) Essex, (c) the Three Valleys water area and (d) Hertfordshire. [64214]

Mr. Morley: Water companies are under a duty to develop and maintain efficient and economical water supply systems. Ofwat assesses their performance against leakage targets and reports progress each year.

The areas that you asked about are covered by three different water companies. In 2004–05, Essex and Suffolk Water, which cover areas (a) and (b) met their leakage target and operated below their Economic Level of Leakage (ELL), which is the level of leakage at which it would cost more to make further reductions than to produce water from another source. Three Valleys Water, which covers area (c) and part of area (d) , met their leakage target and operated at their ELL. Thames
 
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Water, which covers part of area (d) , reduced its overall leakage for the first time since 1999–2000, but failed its leakage target of 905 Megalitres/day by 10 Megalitres/day (1.1 per cent.).

It is the responsibility of Ofwat to set and enforce leakage targets. If necessary, Ofwat now has powers to fine companies for leakage failures.

TREASURY

Correspondence

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) when he will reply to the letter dated 14 February from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, with regard to Julie Reid; [62435]

(2) when he expects to answer the letter of 14 February from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, with regard to Mrs. C Hayes. [63930]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Paymaster General will reply to the right hon. Member very shortly.

QinetiQ

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what reasons underlay the decision by his Department not to adjust the estimated profile of repayments, when the revenue expected from the QinetiQ loan, as referred to in the National Audit Office Audit of Assumptions for Budget 2006, pages five and six, was not received in 2004–05. [63627]

Mr. Des Browne: The estimated profile of repayments on the Aquila Chertsey Loan Note was based on routine data supplied to HM Treasury. For the pre-Budget report 2005 this reflected the slippage out of 2004–05. HMT did not adjust the later years of the profile until MOD were able to confirm the repayments in 2005–06. This was done for Budget 2006.

TRANSPORT

Cycling

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many local authorities have included targets for cycling in their local transport plans; and what the targets are for each such authority. [63658]

Derek Twigg: The final second round Local Transport Plans, covering the years 2006–11, were received by the Department on 31 March and the process of assessment has only just commenced. Once this process has been completed, I will write to the hon. Member.

Dartford Crossing

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the income from user-charges for the Dartford crossing has been in each of the last five years; and how the surplus after operating costs have been deducted was spent. [64191]


 
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Dr. Ladyman: Prior to 1 April 2002 the concessionaire operating the Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing retained all toll income.

Gross toll income received at the crossing for the year to 31 March 2003 amounted to £69.34 million. Under the provisions of the legislation applying to toll income at that time (the Dartford-Thurrock Crossing Act 1988) all revenue had to be used for the operation and maintenance of the crossing.

Under the provisions of the Transport Act 2000 a road user-charging scheme has been in operation at the crossing since 1 April 2003. The gross income received is as follows:
£ million
2003–04(1)68.12
2004–05(1)69.02


(1) Includes rental income and/or interest received.


The accounts for the period from 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006 are being prepared and will be published in due course.

Under the Transport Act 2000, during the 10 year period which started when the scheme came into force, net proceeds may only be used for the purpose of directly or indirectly facilitating the achievement of any policies or proposals relating to transport. All net revenue from the charging scheme therefore accrues to the Department for Transport to support overall expenditure on transport projects.

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of (a) the number of accidents and (b) the congestion caused by vehicles queuing to pass through the toll booths at the Dartford Crossing. [64192]

Dr. Ladyman: The agents managing the day-to-day operations of the crossing review injury accident data obtained from the police, every six months and submit a report to the Highways Agency. From this report accident cluster sites are identified and studies commissioned to identify possible mitigating actions.

The layout of the toll plaza is not designed for free flow conditions, and the toll plazas perform an important safety role in controlling the volume of traffic and speed of vehicles both through the tunnels and away from the bridge.

The level of congestion at and around the Dartford Crossing is included in the baseline assessment of the Department for Transport's PSA reliability target.

Rail Services (Wales)

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many representations his Department has received on the First Great Western Trains December 2006 proposed timetable; and how many related to the proposed termination of the 1515 London Paddington to Swansea service at Cardiff. [60811]


 
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Derek Twigg: The Department has received approximately 600 representations on the First Greater Western's proposed timetable for December 2006. One was related to the proposed termination of the 15.15 Paddington to Swansea service at Cardiff.


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