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Rough Sleeping in Westminster

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): This information is not held centrally.

Privately Operated Ambulances

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether privately operated ambulances are exempted from any legislation to which private motorists are subject.[HL2154]

Baroness Hayman: Privately operated ambulances are exempt from vehicle excise duty if they are used for no purpose other than the carriage of sick, injured or disabled people to or from welfare centres or places where medical or dental treatment is given. There are other areas, including traffic signs and speed limits, where private ambulances as well as those operated with the NHS may qualify for special provisions.

Short-term Engine Shut-off: Pollutant Emission

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What advice they give to car drivers in serious traffic jams about switching off their engines if they are likely to be stationary for a prolonged period.[HL2139]

    Further to the Written Answer by the Chairman of Committees on 1 June (WA 12), whether they have carried out an environmental assessment of emissions from cars fitted with catalytic convertors to demonstrate the benefits of keeping engines running for different lengths of time as compared to switching them off; and, if so, whether they will place a copy of the assessment in the Library of the House.[HL2140]

Baroness Hayman: Advice is regularly given to drivers in official publications recommending that a vehicle's engine should be switched off if the vehicle is likely to be stationary in traffic for more than two minutes.

Research carried out in Germany shows that the benefits of switching off the engines of catalyst equipped cars for a given time can vary according to the pollutant under consideration--a matter of seconds with respect to oxides of nitrogen and fuel consumption but over five minutes with respect to hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. In view of the fact that such times will vary further for different vehicle types and different levels of emission control technology, the Government have concluded that the general advice which they issue is appropriate for most vehicles in most situations. I have placed a copy of the report (in German with English abstract) entitled Schadstoffemissionen und Kraftstoffverbrauch bei kurzzeitiger Motorabschaltung (Pollutant emission and fuel consumption with short-term engine shutoff) in the Library of the House.

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London: Strategic Road Network

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to consult on which roads should form the strategic London road network for which the Greater London authority will have responsibility.[HL2250]

Baroness Hayman: We have today published our consultation document on a strategic London road network. Copies have been placed in the Library and sent to the London local authorities, the Association of London Government, London Transport and others with an interest in the movement of people and goods in London.

This fulfils an undertaking in the White Paper, A Mayor and Assembly for London (Cm 3897 published on 25 March 1998), to consult about precisely which roads should be part of the strategic London road network. The White Paper made clear that we start from the presumption that this network should be based upon the present primary and red route networks. This comprises about 220 miles of trunk roads and 105 miles of borough roads. The transfer of the trunk roads to the GLA will represent a major shift in responsibilities from central to local government.

The consultation document sets out possible additions to and deletions from the primary and red route networks in order to form the strategic network for which the Greater London authority will take responsibility. Comments on the proposals are invited by 7 August.

Compulsory Purchase and Blight

Lord Gregson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of consultation on the final report of the Indepartmental Working Group on Blight and what proposals they have to change the law relating to compulsory purchase and blight.[HL2249]

Baroness Hayman: The results of the consultation have shown that blight is just one issue which needs to be reviewed in relation to compulsory purchase and land compensation. We have, therefore, commissioned an fundamental review of the law and procedures which relate to the compulsory acquisition of land. We have placed a copy of the terms of reference of the review in the Library of the House. We would expect to have a interim report on this by the end of the year.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland will consider separately the case for reform of the law in Scotland.

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Bristol: Free Exhaust Emission Tests

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the choice of Bristol as a centre for free exhaust emission tests was influenced by the city council's decision to allow a large bus depot to be built in the heart of a residential area on Creswicke Road playing fields.[HL2079]

Baroness Hayman: No. We are seeking to arrange free emission checks over the summer months for motorists in each of the seven areas involved in the trial scheme for involving local authorities in the enforcement of vehicle emission standards at the roadside. These areas include Bristol, Birmingham, Canterbury, Glasgow, Middlesbrough, Swansea and Westminster. We understand free emission checks are also being arranged in Belfast, although they are not

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involved in the enforcement trial. A detailed announcement will be made about this shortly.

Heysham-to-M.6 Link Road

Lord Cadman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why Lancashire County Council was able to adopt the green (western) route for the M.6-to-Heysham link road for incorporation into its structure plan, notwithstanding that the route had been turned down previously by planning inspectors of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.[HL2150]

Baroness Hayman: The final decision on the route of the Heysham-to-M.6 link road has not yet been made. We will have to wait for the final decision to emerge from the Lancaster local plan inquiry which starts in October this year.

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