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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): Disease has been confirmed on 10 sites. These have been cleared and roughly 3,000 tonnes of fish slaughtered. In weight terms this is equivalent to about 3 per cent. of this year's expected production.
Lord Sewel: All sites are routinely inspected. Particularly close attention is being paid to sites where the disease has been confirmed or suspected, those in the same water catchment area and those which may have had contact with such sites. With a view to halting the spread of the disease, movement restrictions have been imposed on some 200 farms situated within 40 kilometres of confirmed/suspected sites. No treatment for the virus is currently available, though work on a preventive vaccine is under way in Canada.
Lord Sewel: The cost of losses is commercially confidential. Historically no compensation has been provided for fish diseases and there is currently no legislative provision to do so. The issue is however under consideration.
Baroness Amos: Assistance for refugees on the Thai-Burma border is provided mainly through a group of NGOs known as the Burma Border Consortium. The consortium delivers a comprehensive programme of assistance in the form of foodstuffs and non-food items, including cooking utensils, building materials and fuel. These arrangements seem to work satisfactorily--it has for instance been possible to ensure that the refugees receive a minimum amount of 2,100 kilocalories per day, in line with the World Food Programme's and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' recommendations. DFID committed £267,500 to the consortium in 1997-98.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The consultation paper on the draft Town and Country Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) (England and Wales) Regulations 1998 was issued on 21 July 1998. To date, 105 responses have been received from business, local government and environmental organisations, as well as members of the public. A list of the responses has been placed in the Library of the House and copies of all the responses have been placed in the DETR library. The Government are considering these responses and the regulations will come into force on 14 March 1999.
Lord Whitty: The Government are committed to tackling social exclusion, reducing inequality and promoting regeneration and development. To help meet this commitment, they have, in their first 18 months, launched specific area-based programmes and initiatives including Health Action Zones, the New Deal for Communities, Employment Zones and Education Action Zones.
These area-based programmes have their own distinct goals. But they share key characteristics. They are targeted on areas and communities where there is a need for priority action; they aim to support new, cross-cutting approaches; they promote genuine local partnerships with stronger local involvement; and they encourage greater flexibility and responsiveness in the operation of public spending programmes.
We are announcing today measures to ensure that area-based initiatives at neighbourhood, local, regional and national level are co-ordinated so that they serve local people as effectively as possible.
In six key locations, which represent a cross-section of types of area and where there is a range of initiatives, the Government will build on experience and support the development of models of best practice in managing and co-ordinating initiatives. They will explore what lessons can be learnt, both about the way in which individual initiatives are delivered and about their relationship to main public spending programmes. The proposed areas are: Newcastle; Plymouth; South Yorkshire; East London (Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets); West Cumbria and Sandwell. The Government will be contacting key interests in those areas, including local communities, to discuss how to take forward these studies and define the target areas more closely.
The Government support the Local Government Association (LGA) New Commitment to Regeneration Initiative, which is seeking a more co-ordinated and flexible approach to regeneration in 22 pathfinder areas through the preparation of comprehensive regeneration
In line with the Social Exclusion Unit report Bringing Britain Together: a national strategy for neighbourhood renewal, an action team, led by DETR, will report by April 1999 on how to build on existing area-based initiatives and local government reform so that in the long term broad-based strategies to prevent and tackle social exclusion become the norm and good practice is disseminated and acted on. This will include development of more effective ways of disseminating information about the wider context within which regeneration programmes and initiatives operate.
Lord Whitty: Draft determinations on these applications were delivered today. We are arranging for copies to be placed in the Library. Members of the public who wish to obtain copies of the documents can do so by contacting the Environment Agency.
Requests have been made to Ministers to "call in" the applications for their own determination. These requests are being considered carefully and my right honourable friends the Secretary of State and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will announce their decisions as soon as they are able to do so.
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