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Family Homes and Domestic Violence Bill: Timetable

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): The Family Homes and Domestic Violence Bill was timetabled to complete its stages in the House of Commons on the basis that it was uncontentious. This has proved not to be the case. Contentious points have arisen during the last stages of this Parliamentary session. I have listened to the concerns expressed about the Bill, and I am considering them. The timetable is such, however, that it is now impossible to make further progress this session. I will continue to work on the Bill with a view to bringing it back before Parliament as soon as possible.

A.303 Planning Conference

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): The conference logo, which is intended to represent the issue of roads and Stonehenge in graphical form, was chosen by the independent chairman of the conference. The logo was produced at a cost of less than £40.

Officials from the Department of National Heritage and the Ministry of Defence will attend the conference to represent the interests of their departments. Representatives from English Heritage will also attend. Members of the Highways Agency will be on hand to answer questions on matters of fact and to provide information when requested to do so by the chairman. Expenditure on travel and subsistence which is properly incurred by officials attending the conference will be reimbursed.

About 180 people have been registered to attend the conference thus far. It will not be clear until the conference starts how many of them will be present throughout. The figure of 180 includes local authority members and officers. We do not know whether local authority representatives will be accompanied by their own consultants. Where costs are incurred by delegates representing local authorities or other organisations, it will be for the organisations concerned to decide whether and how they should be reimbursed. No reimbursement will be available for individuals who attend in their own interest.

The planning conference is in addition to the normal statutory procedures under the Highways Act 1980 and will not affect the rights of individuals and organisations to object to or make representations about any subsequent proposals which may be published by the Highways Agency. The planning conference brochure refers to the conclusions of the International Conference of 1994. Ministers will consider the resolutions of the planning conference carefully before making any decision on the way forward for the A.303 Amesbury-Berwick Down improvement scheme. This could include the announcement of a preferred route.

More than 20 individuals were considered as candidates for the chairmanship of the conference. The selection was made by reference to their experience, qualifications, reputation and availability. The chairman will have unlimited discretion to decide on the range of issues (including possible routes and their funding) which may be discussed at the conference. The

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conference brochure states that various long tunnels have been carefully considered by the Highways Agency but "rejected as being unaffordable". Documentation on all the work carried out by the agency will be available at the conference.

Stonehenge is managed by English Heritage, on behalf of the Department of National Heritage. English Heritage also advise the department on its statutory responsibilities arising from the site's designation as a

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scheduled monument. Although no additional statutory controls arise from Stonehenge's designation as a World Heritage site, the Department of National Heritage has overall responsibility for ensuring that the site is maintained in a condition benefitting its outstanding importance as a World Heritage site. The Department of Transport, through the Highways Agency, is responsible for designing and funding any road proposals in the area. As the Ministry of Defence own land in the vicinity of Stonehenge, they too have an interest in proposals affecting the World Heritage site.

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