Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Aircraft Fuel and Motor Fuel Tax

Lord Gilmour of Craigmillar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The UK does not tax aircraft fuel, in line with long-standing international agreement.

Defence Driving Instructors: Registration

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Ministry of Defence maintains a register of all defence driving instructors. Registration lasts for an initial period of four years and can then be extended by four-year periods provided that the criteria for re-registration have been met.

The number of valid instructors shown on the defence driving instructor register is 1,790 (including 295 civil servants). Records are kept centrally only for the last six years. The number of personnel recorded as previously qualified but no longer current is 833.

Asylum Seekers: Guidance to Local Authorities

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Department of Health has given advice and guidance to those health authorities to whom asylum seekers have been dispersed on the additional resource implications their presence will make. The department also liaises regularly with the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) of the Home Office, which is responsible for the dispersal, accommodation and support of destitute asylum seekers.

17 Oct 2000 : Column WA82

Tobacco Advertising

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the ruling of the European Court of Justice on 5 October concerning the marketing of tobacco products, they will now bring forward proposals to restrict the marketing of such products. [HL4065]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: This ruling is a disappointment but it will not deflect us from our commitment to ban tobacco advertising. We said at the time of the Advocate General's opinion in June that we would consider primary legislation to ban tobacco advertising and that is what we are doing.

Passive Smoking

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that not to be subject to passive smoking is a basic human right. [HL4104]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Government strongly believe people should have the right to choose whether or not they are exposed to tobacco smoke. That is why the Government have supported the licensed hospitality trade's Public Places Charter, which aims to increase the provision of non-smoking facilities in pubs, hotels and restaurants. The Government are also reviewing smoking policies in their own departments. The Health and Safety Commission has now recommended the introduction of an approved code of practice on smoking in the workplace and the Government are considering the commission's advice.

Water Fluoridation

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the conclusion in Section 12.9 of the report of the systematic scientific review of water fluoridation, published on 6 October by the National Health Service Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at York, that the quality of research hitherto has been "generally low", whether they will indicate which of the future research needs identified in the report they intend to act upon and within what timescale; or, if there are areas highlighted where they do not intend to instigate research, why not.[HL4105]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Department of Health has asked the Medical Research Council to draw upon the expertise available to it and explore how, in the light of the systematic review, any further research could most productively be focused in order to strengthen the knowledge base concerning water fluoridation and its effects on health.

17 Oct 2000 : Column WA83

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of the reply by Baroness Hayman of 20 April 1999 (WA 158) that "dental fluorosis is a manifestation of systemic toxicity", what action they propose to take following the publication of the report of the systematic scientific review of water fluoridation by the National Health Service Centre for Reviews and Dissemination which suggested that, where water is fluoridated at 1 part per million, an estimated 48 per cent of the population suffer from fluorosis.[HL4106]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Dental fluorosis is a mottling of the teeth, which only in its more extreme forms will leave some people concerned about the appearance of their teeth. Even then the teeth are still endowed with extra resistance to decay and the effect can be removed by routine dental treatment. The presence of dental fluorosis in an individual does not imply that fluoride has had any other adverse effect in that individual. The numerous studies of the effects of fluoride and of fluoridation of water supplies have not demonstrated that drinking water containing fluoride at 1 part per million has any significant effect, beneficial or adverse, other than on teeth. The findings of the Centre for Research and Dissemination systematic review are consistent with this view.

"Today" Programme on Smoking

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they are co-operating with cigarette manufacturing companies to help smokers to quit, as was stated in the BBC Radio 4 "Today" programme on 10 October by a representative of the British American Tobacco Company.[HL4137]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The United Kingdom Government do not co-operate with the cigarette manufacturing companies to help smokers quit and have no plans to do so.

Sure Start: Health Visitor Involvement

Lord Northbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many schemes under Sure Start are up and running, and how many of these include as active members of the local Sure Start partnership one or more representatives of the Health Visitors Association.[HL4016]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): Nearly 100 Sure Start programmes have now been approved. All include representatives of health organisations in their partnerships. Health visitors have played a crucial role in developing local Sure Start plans, particularly in their work with local people and their experience with young children and parents.

17 Oct 2000 : Column WA84

Lorry Weight Changes: Unit Costs

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Taking into account the increase in lorry weights and the reduction in Vehicle Excise Duty which will come into force next year, what reduction in unit costs, expressed in pence per capacity tonne kilometres, will the operator of a maximum weight lorry enjoy, assuming fuel prices remain constant at today's level.[HL4075]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): From 1 February next year, it is intended that it will be permissible to run six-axled articulated vehicles at a maximum weight of 44 tonnes in general haulage, in comparison with the current maximum of 41 tonnes. The Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rate for 44-tonne vehicles will be £2,950, compared with £2,500 for 41-tonne vehicles on six axles. Allowing for the differences in payload, VED rate and fuel costs, we estimate that unit costs expressed in pence per capacity tonne kilometres will be broadly the same for the two types of vehicle.

Westminster Bridge: Traffic Disruption

Lord Peyton of Yeovil asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On how many days in each of the last three years all lanes on Westminster Bridge and the roads immediately leading to it have been open to normal traffic; and when they expect them to be.[HL4097]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): Information about when all these lanes have been open during the last three years is not available. I understand that all lanes on the bridge and the adjacent roads should be open to normal traffic by Christmas.

The works on the north side of the bridge on behalf of the Parliamentary Works Directorate should be completed by the end of October or the beginning of November and the works to the south of the bridge should be completed by Christmas.

Regional Planning Guidance

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When are the Government going to publish the final version of Planning Policy Guidance Note 11 on Regional Planning.[HL4259]

Lord Whitty: Today we have published the final version of PPG11 Regional Planning. The new regional planning arrangements we announced in draft last year have been seen to work well in practice and have been widely welcomed. Our new guidance contrasts with previous practices where Whitehall produced draft regional planning guidance with decisions being taken behind closed doors. Under our new arrangements it is the regions that produce the drafts. There is then open public debate at a public

17 Oct 2000 : Column WA85

examination before the Secretary of State approves the guidance.

Fundamental to the new arrangements is that these strategies should be produced on an inclusive basis to promote regional ownership. The regional planning bodies need to work with a wide range of stakeholders in accordance with a streamlined and publicly accountable timetable.

The new strategies should integrate land-use and transport planning. They will provide a long-term regional planning framework for the preparation of structure plans, unitary development plans and local transport plans. They will also inform other strategies and programmes, including the RDA regional economic strategies.

We are also publishing today new guidance on how to prepare sustainability appraisals of these strategies to help ensure they deliver sustainable development.

Copies of both PPG11 and the guidance on sustainability appraisals are available in the Library and on my department's planning website:

Birdcage Walk and Horseguards Parade: Traffic Disruption

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the eastbound carriageway in BirdcageWalk is now closed; why vehicle access to Horseguards

17 Oct 2000 : Column WA86

    Parade is now blocked; who authorised these works; and when they expect normal traffic to be resumed.[HL4018]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Responsibility for the subject of this Question has been delegated to the Royal Parks Agency under its Chief Executive, William Weston. I have asked the agency to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from the Chief Executive of the Royal Parks Agency, William Weston, dated 16 October 2000.

I have been asked by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to reply to your Parliamentary Question about the closure of Birdcage Walk and Horse Guards Road because this is an operational matter for which the Agency is responsible.

Birdcage Walk is closed to traffic, one carriageway at a time, because we are undertaking major repairs and re-surfacing work and introducing safety improvements. Currently it is the eastbound carriageway and the work is also blocking the entrance to Horse Guards Road. The work is being carried out as part of the Agency's ongoing programme of road maintenance and is included in the Agency's corporate plan agreed by the Secretary of State. Before undertaking the works, the proposed closures were discussed with the local authority and the Metropolitan Police and Traffic for London.

The schedule has slipped slightly due to the weather and the fuel shortages, but the work is expected to be completed by the end of November.

   Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page