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29 Apr 2008 : Column 278W—continued

Roads: Tax Evasion

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road tax evaders there were in (a) 2000-01 and (b) 2005-06; what proportion of these were prosecuted in 2005-06; and what the loss was of revenue as a result of such tax evasions in 2005-06. [202134]

Jim Fitzpatrick: There was no roadside survey to measure road tax evaders conducted in 2000-01. The nearest estimate available is from the 2002 roadside survey. The estimated number of unlicensed vehicles at that time was 1.76 million vehicles, representing an estimated loss of revenue through evasion of £193 million.

The 2005 roadside survey estimated the number of unlicensed vehicles as 1.55 million, with an estimated revenue loss figure of £147 million.

In 2005-06 DVLA brought 144,884 successful prosecutions at magistrates’ court relating to the use of unlicensed vehicles. A further 516,808 cases were dealt with via out of court settlements.

Rolling Stock

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 2 April 2008 , Official Report, columns 1034-35W, on rolling stock, what requests received from train operating companies for extra rolling stock have been rejected since 1 January 2005. [201308]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 24 April 2008]: The Department for Transport has frequent discussions with train operators on a range of issues, including the possibility of providing extra rolling stock. However, no formal requests to approve leases for additional vehicles have been rejected.

As part of the HLOS process, the Department for Transport is in discussions with train operators about delivering 1,300 additional vehicles.

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Rolling Stock: Northampton

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans she has for the improvement of the rolling stock on the London to Northampton train service. [202696]

Mr. Tom Harris: London Midland are committed to replacing the class 321 electric multiple units with brand new Siemens Desiro class 350 electric multiple units, on services between London and Northampton as part of its franchise.

Rolling Stock: Standards

Mike Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps she takes to ensure that passengers' seating comfort is taken into account in train design; and if she will make a statement. [201219]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Department for Transport is working with the industry to develop a whole life cost model for evaluating the design of rail vehicles. Passenger seating comfort is one of the many factors within the model which recognises the significance of comfortable seating in encouraging the use of rail services. The model also balances the desire for spacious seating against the requirement to provide a sufficient number of seats.

During the procurement of the Intercity Express trains the Department will be working with passenger groups to assess the relative comfort of the various proposals for passenger seating.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Hemp

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) estimate his Department has made of the costs and (b) assessment he has made of the merits of growing industrial hemp in England, with particular reference to the production of cellulose for (i) biodegradable plastics and (ii) paper manufacture. [200534]

Mr. Woolas: Approximately 1,416 hectares of industrial hemp are grown and processed in England, mainly for the bio-composite, construction, and animal bedding industries. Such end uses are driven by the market and represent the most cost beneficial application of this high value raw material.

The DEFRA renewable materials LINK programme is set up to assist consortia of academia and industry bring innovative technologies based on novel crops to market. New products based on hemp and hemp fibre would be eligible for consideration for LINK funding.

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the merits of a licensing regime for farmers wishing to grow industrial hemp. [200535]

Mr. Coaker: I have been asked to reply.

The United Kingdom already has a licensing regime for growing industrial hemp.

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Agriculture: Nitrate Vulnerable Zones

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has made an assessment of the likely environmental impacts arising from the application of slurry and poultry manure to non-sandy farmland in the days immediately following the end of closed periods proposed for nitrate vulnerable zones. [200927]

Mr. Woolas: This will be included in the Government’s response to the consultation, which I intend to announce and publish before Parliament breaks for summer recess.

Air Pollution: Standards

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent consideration the Government have given to lowering the maximum permissible levels of air pollution; and what assessment the Government have made of the effects of increased use of diesel vehicles on levels of air pollution. [201275]

Jonathan Shaw: A new ambient air quality directive, due to come into force in May 2008, consolidates existing EU legislation and includes new controls over very fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), where the World Health Organisation (WHO) advises that there is no safe level of exposure. The main elements are a 'backstop' limit value, to be met everywhere by 2015, and an 'exposure concentration obligation' to be met across urban background locations (as an average), also by 2015. The directive must be transposed into UK law within two years of it coming into force.

Estimates of future air pollution emissions from transport include assumptions modelling the increase in diesel car market share, with an assumption that this will stabilise at 42 per cent. in 2010. These estimates are used for assessing new vehicle emissions standards and the revised National Air Quality Strategy, published in 2007. Diesel cars currently emit significantly higher levels of both particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen than petrol cars. However, the recently agreed Euro 5 and 6 emissions standards will reduce particulate emissions from new diesel cars to comparable levels to petrol cars by 2011 and substantially reduce the difference between petrol and diesel NOx emissions by 2015.

Angling: Licensing

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) full and (b) concessionary cost of a (i) coarse and trout and (ii) salmon and sea trout rod licence was in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [201440]

Jonathan Shaw: The following table shows the full and concessionary cost of a (i) non-migratory trout and coarse and (ii) salmon and sea trout licence in each of the last five years.

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Salmon and sea trout Non migratory trout and coarse fish
Full Concessionary Full Concessionary


























I should point out that the Environment Agency is under no legal obligation to offer rod licences to any class of persons at concessionary duty rates. Both the agency and I recognise that the increase in concessionary duty rates for this year is significant and the agency has publicly stated that it will use a significant proportion of the monies raised by the higher duty rates to improve access to angling for the disabled and senior anglers. I welcome this and I will seek evidence from the agency that it has honoured that commitment.

Biofuels: Marketing

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to raise awareness of the effects of more widespread use of biofuels. [201254]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I have been asked to reply.

The Government have consulted widely on their biofuel support policies since 2004. On each occasion they have drawn attention to the potential environmental, economic and social impacts of increasing levels of biofuel use. Ministers and officials have made regular presentations on this subject at conferences and other public events, and the Government have held a large number of stakeholder workshops which have been well-attended by representatives from a wide range of different interest groups.

Information on biofuels has also been made available via the Department for Transport’s website at:

and, in recent months, via the Renewable Fuels Agency’s website at:

The Renewable Fuels Agency will report regularly on the effects of the biofuels used under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO). These reports will be made available via the RFA’s website.

Climate Change: Seas and Oceans

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research he has conducted into the impact of the melting of ice-sheets; and what estimates his Department has made of the lowest and highest potential rise in sea levels as a result of such melting. [201323]

Mr. Woolas: DEFRA funds research at the Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC) aimed at improving the representation of ice sheets in climate models, and (through the DEFRA/Ministry of Defence funded MOHC Integrated Climate Programme) scientists at the MOHC are working with the wider academic
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community to study future changes in ice-sheet volume and sea level. DEFRA also funds research into the potential impacts of sea level rise on the United Kingdom through the UK Climate Impacts Programme.

The Government advise the operating authorities to factor a predicted change in the rate of sea level rise from the current 2.5 to 4 millimetres per year from 13 to 15 millimetres per year by the end of the century, depending on location, into the design of present-day river and coastal defences. As part of a precautionary approach, this advice includes predicted land level changes as well as predicted changes in global average sea level.

Departmental Pensions

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cash equivalent transfer value is of the public sector pensions of the 10 highest paid members of staff in his Department and its executive agencies; and if he will make a statement. [200720]

Jonathan Shaw: It is not appropriate to disclose values for staff, other than those whose details are reported on in Remuneration Reports in the Department’s Resource Accounts. A copy of the Resource Accounts for the year 2006-07 can be found in the Library.

Departmental Public Participation

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many respondents took part in each consultation held by his Department in each of the last three years. [198676]

Jonathan Shaw: Departments publish consultations as an integral part of their policy development work. In compliance with the Government’s Code of Practice on Consultation, departments publish summaries of the responses received to their consultation exercises. These state how may responses were received.

Information is not held centrally on how many respondents took part in each consultation for over the last three years. To acquire this information would be at disproportionate cost. The number of responses to DEFRA consultations varies greatly, from 12 in the case of our Consultation on the Reform of Fruit and Vegetable Regime to 16,919 responses for the Climate Change Bill.

Since January 2005 until December 2007 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has launched 289 public consultations.

The breakdown, per year, is as follows:

Calendar year Number







Fisheries: Quotas

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will ensure that compensation is provided to under-10 metre fishing fleets when new catch limits are in place. [201921]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 28 April 2008]: Monthly catch limits of quota stocks for the under 10
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metre fleet are set by the Marine and Fisheries Agency, taking into account the amount of quota available to the under 10 metre fleet and estimates of the likely pattern of fishing activity. The proposed limits for 2008 were published earlier this year. These are subject to revision following discussion at quarterly meetings with representatives of the fishing fleet at quarterly meetings around the coast and in London.

I have recently consulted under 10 metre fishermen on a package of measures intended to bring fleet capacity more into line with fishing opportunity. My officials are developing detailed proposals and I expect to be able to publish a formal consultation on these proposals in the summer of this year. Compensation payments do not form part of those proposals.

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the timetable is for discussions between his Department and the Marine and Fisheries Agency with regard to changes to the under-10 metre fleet catch limits. [201923]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 28 April 2008]: DEFRA officials and the Marine and Fisheries Agency discuss fisheries management issues, including the under 10 metre catch limits, on a regular basis as required. For this reason, there is no set timetable for discussions.

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