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Channel Islands and Isle of Man:EU Powers

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Paragraphs 1497 to 1513 of the Report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution (Cmnd 5460) set out the limited circumstances in which, in its view, the United Kingdom would be justified in using its paramount powers to legislate for the Islands without their consent. Legislation on taxation matters has always taken the form of laws enacted by the Island legislatures. The Channel Islands and Isle of Man are not subject to European Union instruments on taxation.

Freight Transfer from Road to Rail: Grants

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and the Scottish Office in Scotland administer freight facilities grants which are designed to assist with the additional capital costs associated with transferring freight from road to rail. For 1999-2000 there is a budget of up to £50 million for freight grants in England and £6 million in Scotland.

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Aside from freight grants, funding for rail freight terminals could be provided from a number of sources. These include government departments, the European Commission and Regional Development Agencies (or in Scotland, Local Enterprise Companies). Regional Development Agencies would have the powers to provide such funding, but have no budgets specifically for this purpose.

A.303 Stonehenge Improvement Scheme

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Highways Agency has developed a preferred route for improving the A.303 through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site; if so, whether this was in advance of any comprehensive environmental assessment of the site, conducted in accordance with the combined requirements of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, English Heritage, the National Trust, the International Commission on Monuments and Sites and the statutory amenity societies; and, if so, whether they will now commission such a study.[HL2853]

Lord Whitty: As part of its normal process for appraising road schemes, the Highways Agency has consulted widely with the relevant statutory bodies and amenity groups and has carried out extensive environmental assessments during the development of the A.303 Stonehenge Improvement scheme. Environmental survey work, including archaeological and landscape surveys, has taken place since 1991.

The announcement of the preferred route will be made this Friday, 25 June. However the scheme will be subject to further environmental assessment and consultation with statutory bodies and others prior to publication of the full Environmental Impact Assessment along with the necessary draft statutory orders which, if confirmed, would authorise construction of the project.

Air Traffic Management, Europe

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they accept the opinion of the European Commission that European airspace is nearing "full saturation" and will be unable to absorb additional traffic beyond 2002-05; and, if so, what steps are being taken, and by whom, to address this situation.[HL2967]

Lord Whitty: We forecast that European aviation will continue to grow at around 5 per cent. per annum well into the next century, and there are national and pan-European plans to accommodate it.

EUROCONTROL, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, has the primary co-ordinating role in the field of air traffic management in Europe, and works with states to identify airspace or airports where additional capacity is needed in the short term. Strategic vision is provided in EUROCONTROL's

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ATM Strategy for 2000+, which transport Ministers of the major European states will be asked to endorse in January 2000.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Highways Authority have made use of the assessment method proposed by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology in its POST note on cost benefit analysis of tunnels of January 1997; and, if not, whether they will now require the authority to do so.[HL2854]

Lord Whitty: The Highways Agency is aware of the proposals put forward by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) in its January 1997 report: Tunnel Vision--The Future Role of Tunnels in Transport Infrastructure.

This included areas such as funding from alternative sources, improved systems of investment appraisal, giving greater weight to environmental considerations and the issue of policy about when road and rail tunnels could be used to protect a wider range of environmental assets.

A new approach was developed to the appraisal (NATA) of different solutions to transport problems as part of our 1998 trunk road review. The approach appraises different solutions against the Government's five criteria of accessibility, safety, economy, environment and integration.

This approach was used to assess the A.303 proposals at Stonehenge. We are proceeding with the road scheme as an exceptional environmental scheme following the 1998 review. The scheme includes a 2 km section of cut and cover tunnel and uniquely will be financed with at least a third contribution from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and English Heritage, reflecting the status of Stonehenge as an important part of the World Heritage Site.

The NATA is a requirement for the Highways Agency in appraising major projects on the trunk road network.

Medicines Control Agency

Lord Sawyer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the future of the Medicines Control Agency.[HL3185]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): We have published the report of the Quinquennial Review of the Medicines Control Agency (MCA). Copies have been placed in the Library. The review confirms that the MCA is a world leader in its field, with an international reputation for professional excellence. It has performed well against its targets, and has secured more work

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under the European licensing system than any other national authority. The review also shows that the MCA has used Executive Agency status well, and recommends that it should retain that status. We accept that recommendation.

In the light of the agency's excellent performance, we are pleased to announce that Dr. Keith Jones's appointment as Chief Executive of the MCA has been extended for a further three years.

NHS Regions: Chairmen's Appointment

Lord Taylor of Blackburn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for the appointments to the posts of chairman of each of the eight NHS regions once the terms of office of the incumbents come to an end.[HL3214]

Baroness Hayman: The terms of office of the chairmen of the eight National Health Service regions end on 1 November 1999. Professor Alasdair Breckenridge has already agreed to stand down to concentrate on his role as chairman of the Committee on the Safety of Medicines. Philip Hammersley, chairman of Trent Region, has indicated that he does not wish to be considered for reappointment.

Of the remaining chairmen, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health has reappointed the following for a further three-year term:

    Ian Mills: London Region

    Janet Trotter: South West Region

    Sir William Wells: South East Region and the following have been reappointed for a four year term:

    Zahida Manzoor: Northern & Yorkshire Region

    Rosie Varley: Eastern Region

    Clive Wilkinson: West Midlands Region

The rigorous, open and transparent appointment procedures set down by the Commissioner for Public Appointments are followed for these posts, although they do not fall within the commissioner's remit.

Advertisements will therefore be placed in the national press shortly to recruit new chairmen for the North West and Trent Regions.

Food Safety

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether food safety law enforcement should be science-led so that the greatest resources are directed at those production sectors and activities where the risk of food-borne disease is greatest.[HL3021]

Baroness Hayman: The United Kingdom supports a risk based approach to statutory controls and their enforcement in respect of the food industry.

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