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16 Dec 2008 : Column 114WS

The Council was given a presidency progress report on an amending regulation extending the responsibilities of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The Council reached a partial general approach—on extension of EASA’s scope to air traffic management and air navigation services. The progress report also covered the provisions on extension of scope to aerodrome safety matters. The presidency underlined the Agency’s important work of inspection and certification in these areas, as an integral part of the Single European Sky package.

The Council adopted two decisions authorising the Commission to open negotiations towards comprehensive aviation agreements with Tunisia and Algeria. The UK supports these mandates.

The presidency and the Commission reported on the successful outcome of negotiations on an EU-Canada aviation agreement. I thanked the Commission for its work on this good agreement, which may be signed during the Czech presidency.

The presidency tabled a report on progress to date in consideration of a proposed Directive to amend Directive 1999-62 on charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructure—the “Eurovignette” Directive. The proposal aims to provide member states with the flexibility to introduce charges for lorries, to internalise the costs of congestion, noise and air pollution. The presidency noted that considerable progress had been made towards agreement on a number of issues, but further discussion would be needed on questions such as the inclusion of congestion charging, the methodology for calculating the level of external cost charges and the question of hypothecation—earmarking—of income from charges. The UK supports the principles underlying the proposal but opposes mandatory hypothecation of revenues. The Czech Republic will aim to reach agreement on this proposal in Council during its presidency.

The presidency gave a progress report on the proposed directive on cross-border enforcement in the field of road safety, noting that there had been a wide consensus on the need to take action in this area and hoping that further progress will be made during the Czech presidency.

The Council adopted conclusions on the greening of transport, the Commission’s strategy for the internalisation of external costs in transport and the reduction of rail noise on existing rolling stock. The UK supported the conclusions.

The Council adopted a resolution on the establishment of a European regional data centre for the Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) of ships. This is the implementation in Europe of a Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulation adopted by the IMO in 2006. The resolution is acceptable to the UK.

Adopted by the Council without debate—as “A points”—were common positions on proposals on flag state requirements and the civil liability of shipowners, both of which are part of the third maritime legislative package. The other six proposals in the package had already been adopted by the Council, and the presidency announced agreement on those between the Council and the European Parliament in the Conciliation Committee the previous day.

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Freight Discussion Document

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jim Fitzpatrick): Today the Department for Transport is publishing “Delivering a Sustainable Transport System - The Logistics Perspective”.

In the UK we are fortunate to have a world-leading logistics industry. However, with many businesses relying on just-in-time methods, the success of our economy depends on the effective and predictable movement of goods.

The logistics perspective publication provides the Government’s first detailed analysis of the movement of major freight commodities on the strategic national corridors, while setting out our understanding of the issues affecting each freight mode. It also considers how we can work with industry to facilitate effective freight movement while mitigating its environmental and social impact.

As part of this consideration, the document commits to a study into the potential effects of an increase of up to 2 metres in the length of articulated vehicle trailers. The study will consider whether there are clear benefits in changing the permitted length to reduce the numbers of lorries on roads, taking into account freight demand and the interaction between road, rail and water transport.

The logistics perspective marks the next milestone in the Government’s transport strategy following our
16 Dec 2008 : Column 116WS
November 2008 “Delivering a Sustainable Transport System” document, which identified the UK’s strategic national corridors.

A copy of “Delivering a Sustainable Transport System - The Logistics Perspective” has been placed in the Library of the House.

Work and Pensions

Autumn Performance Report

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Purnell): I am announcing my intention to publish the Autumn Performance Report of the Department for Work and Pensions on Thursday 18 December. The report is intended to supplement the Department’s annual report published in May 2008.

The report is the Department’s first report under CSR 2007 on its cross-governmental public service agreements, its departmental strategic objectives and its value for money delivery agreement.

This publication has been specifically designed to be accessed online, on the grounds of sustainability and potential financial savings, and will be available on the Department’s website from 18 December. For the convenience of Members, copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

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