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Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency operates within the law and makes every endeavour to give vehicle operators the best possible advice on the appropriate tax class within which to license their vehicles. When the police send a case to the Crown Prosecution, it is reviewed to make sure that it meets the tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

If the Crown Prosecutor is satisfied that there is enough evidence to prosecute, then the public interest test must be considered. The advice received by defendants from DVLA would be one factor the prosecutor would take into account when considering whether a prosecution is needed in the public interest. However, the prosecutor must balance other factors for and against the prosecution in weighing the public interest. Each case must be considered on its own individual merits.

The interpretation of the law is of course a matter for the courts, and the agency will revise its advice to operators in the light of decisions by the courts.

Animal Carcass Incineration

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: It is not our policy that there should be a small number of large capacity animal carcass incinerators instead of a large number of small-scale animal carcass incinerators.

Our policy on waste is set out in the draft waste strategy, A Way With Waste. This emphasises the priority the Government places on tough environmental standards for all types of incineration. It also makes clear that wastes should be disposed of as close to the point of production as possible, consistent with the need for effective environmental controls.

We now expect the proposal to be adopted as a directive in the autumn, subject to the progress of the final stage of negotiation. The deadline for transposition into UK law will be two years after

6 Jun 2000 : Column WA148

adoption. The proposal is therefore likely to apply to new plant from autumn 2002. Existing plant will not, however, have to comply until five years after adoption--ie autumn 2005.

We are looking at implementation options which will minimise the burden on small scale animal carcass incinerators and pet crematoria while ensuring that there are appropriate environmental safeguards.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have evidence that all small capacity incinerators exceed the emission levels laid down in the draft Incineration of Waste Directive and, if only some makes of incinerator are unsatisfactory, whether those incinerators could not be replaced by machines that comply with the emission requirements. [HL2440]

Lord Whitty: It is the Environment Agency's advice that it is likely that no animal carcass incinerators under 50kg/hr capacity would be fitted with the necessary emissions abatement equipment to meet the standards for dioxins and other pollutants in the proposed waste incineration directive. The cost-benefit analyses prepared for the Department by Entec UK Ltd (copies of which are in the House Library) in Appendix 1 pp. 58-59 noted a lack of emissions data for such plant, but assumed that equipment to abate nitrogen oxides, hydrogen chloride and heavy metals would be needed, plus a secondary combustion chamber to permit sufficient residence time to achieve the dioxins limit.

Newbridge-on-Wye: Proposed Wood-burning Power Plant

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied that the applicants for planning permission to construct a wood-burning power plant at Newbridge-on-Wye have given full and true answers to the Fourth Renewables Tranche questionnaire, particularly in respect of unreleased covenants affecting the land in question.[HL2571]

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Through OFGEM, the Department of Trade and Industry has very recently received a request to conduct an investigation under Section 59 of the Electricity Act 1989 on the accuracy of the completion of the Fourth Renewables Tranche questionnaire by the applicants seeking planning permission for a wood-burning power plant at Newbridge-on-Wye. The department has not yet decided whether an official investigation under Section 59 of the Act is to be launched.

If it is decided to launch an investigation, then the points you raise would be fully addressed in any such investigation.

6 Jun 2000 : Column WA149

Transport of Military Equipment

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What criteria are considered by the Ministry of Defence in deciding whether road or rail transport is used for the movement of military equipment within the United Kingdom.[HL 2582]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): In some cases the mode of transport used may be predetermined to provide training in a particular method of transportation, especially in the case of practising rail movement for deployment. Apart from these, each request for transport is judged on its own merits. Factors considered include: the ability to achieve the required delivery date; the size of the load; the suitability and location of railheads; security and public safety considerations. An assessment is also made of extra effort caused by double-handling at road-rail interfaces and "out-of-gauge" operating considerations. Unless there are overriding reasons to use either road or rail, then the solution which offers the best value for money is normally selected.

Warminster Garrison: Gas Appliances

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many married quarters in the Warminster garrison, managed by the Defence Housing Executive, have gas appliances; and how many complaints about these appliances there have been in the last year.[HL 2558]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: All the 591 Service Families Accommodation (SFA) at Warminster garrison have gas appliances--i.e. gas cookers and gas heating/hot water boilers. Since May 1999 there have been four formal complaints about unsafe appliances. These complaints have all been satisfactorily resolved and gas certificates have been issued. The gas supply was turned off in each case while remedial action was taken.

All the houses at Warminster are fitted with carbon monoxide monitors and none of the systems that failed the contractor's spillage test discharged enough carbon monoxide into each house to activate the alarm.

NMEC Board Members: Meeting with Minister

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, has had any conversation with any member of the board of the New Millennium Experience Company on 21, 22 or 23 May; and whether he will publish a list of any such conversations.[HL2671]

6 Jun 2000 : Column WA150

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): As sole shareholder of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC), I am in regular contact with members of the NMEC board. On 23 May I met with a number of NMEC board members in the course of the afternoon.

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport or the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, had a conversation with Mr Michael Grade on 22 or 23 May; and, if so, what was the subject of the conversation.[HL2676]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: As sole shareholder of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC), I am in regular contact with members of the NMEC board. On 23 May I met with a number of NMEC board members in the course of the afternoon, including Michael Grade.

Special Advisers: Registration of Interests

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Leader of the House on 11 May (WA 235), whether there is a register of interests of the special advisers currently employed by the Government; and, if not, whether they have plans to institute such a register. [HL2508]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: All civil servants, including special advisers, are required under the terms and conditions of their employment not to misuse their official position or information acquired in the course of their official duties to further their private interests or those of others. They should not receive benefits of any kind from a third party which might reasonably be seen to compromise their personal judgment or integrity. Where a conflict of interest arises, civil servants must declare the interest to senior management, who will determine how best to proceed. All such declarations are confidential between the employer and employee. We have no plans to make any changes to the existing system.

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