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Lord Davies of Oldham: The transport segment of the Transport, Energy and Telecommunications Council was held in Luxembourg on 5 and 6 June. My right honourable friend, the then Minister of State for Transport (Mr Spellar) represented the United Kingdom.
The Council agreed a three-part package on aviation external relations. This includes mandates for the Commission to negotiate an air service agreement with the US on behalf of the Community, and to negotiate on specific Community issues with other third countries, while allowing flexibility for member states to negotiate and implement air service agreements bilaterally. We welcome this package as a pragmatic and balanced response to the European Court of Justice rulings in the "open skies" cases, and my right honourable friend spoke in support of it.
A general approach was reached on a regulation suspending the use-it-or-lose-it rule for airport slot allocation for the summer season 2003 for application in summer 2004, because of the exceptional circumstancesthe Iraq conflict and SARSthat affected passenger demand.
There were written reports to the Council on progress on two legislative proposals in aviation, the draft regulations on insurance requirements and protection against unfair pricing practices by third countries.
There was a debate on a draft regulation on ship and port facility security. Further work will be done in COREPER with a view to agreement at the October Council. There was consensus that work should focus on implementing the IMO regime for international traffic and the possible extension to Class A passenger ships on domestic voyages (primarily those travelling more than 20 nautical miles from the coast). We support this regulation, which will ensure the consistent application of IMO requirements agreed last December. We expressed our concern at the automatic application to shorter domestic voyages at Council.
Council Conclusions were agreed on improving the image of Community shipping and attracting young people to the seafaring profession. We welcome this initiative and my right honourable friend proposed that there should be a review of progress during the UK Presidency in 2005, following a Commission report. This was welcomed by the Commission and the Presidency.
Council Conclusions were agreed supporting the integration of EGNOS (project for enhancement of the GPS system in Europe) and the Galileo satellite navigation project. We are in favour of the integration of EGNOS and Galileo.
The Commission reported on progress of the High Level Group of Member States and acceding country representatives looking at future priorities for the transport Trans-European Network. The group's report will be submitted to the Commission, which will bring forward proposals.
Council Conclusions were agreed on the Commission's road safety action plan, entitled, Halving the number of road accidents victims in the European Union by 2010: a shared responsibility. We welcomed the document and said that, where legislative measures are in prospect, they will have a much better chance of early acceptance by the Council if careful consideration of proportionality and subsidiarity issues is given beforehand. My right honourable friend referred to the UK's good record on road safety, which showed the value of our approach. The UK was one of the member states singled out by the Commission as models for best practice in reducing road accidents.
There was a written report on progress on the draft directive on minimum safety requirements on tunnels in the trans-European road network. Several member states, including the UK, although supporting the general aim of improving safety, have had concerns about some of the detailed technical provisions in this directive. The Commission recognised that further technical work needs to be done and that there is a need for flexibility in application. The Council will aim to reach agreement on the directive later this year.
The Commission reported on its plans for transport infrastructure charging. It plans to issue a proposal on a revised Eurovignette system for the charging of HGVs before the summer break. A number of member states called for rapid progress to be made on expected wider proposals for transport infrastructure charging. My right honourable friend called for proposals which will support the implementation of the UK's own lorry charging scheme.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Of 620 responses to Equality and Diversity: The Way ahead (published in October 2002), 18 (3 per cent) said they would have preferred the Government to use primary legislation rather than secondary legislation as a way of implementing the Employment and Race Directive. 16 responses (3 per cent) suggested that new legislation on (sexual orientation, religion and age) should extend beyond the field of employment. In both cases, the responses came from unions, faith groups and other representative bodies.
One hundred and six (39 per cent) respondents to the parallel consultation on the future of Great Britain's equality institutions, Equality and DiversityMaking it Happen, argued for measures o harmonise anti-discrimination legislation, in particular through a single Equality Act.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Even though no new data will now be collected for HASS, the Government recognise that the existing database will remain a valuable resource for many years which should continue to be freely available for users. They will, therefore, be looking for proposals from other organisations that would be interested in taking it over. The value of the database should be enhanced by the inclusion of the past three years data which has been delayed by IT problems. The Government hope to be able to publish this later this year.
The report of the Accidental Injury Task Force identified a need to strengthen the surveillance of accidental injury at regional and local levels in the NHS. This will be the Government's first priority. However, it is too soon to say whether NHS surveillance will collect data on product involvement in accidental injuries in the sort of detail which HASS has provided. If detailed data is required on product safety issues, this can be collected through targeted surveys.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The DTI expects to be able to publish HASS data collected during 2000, 2001 and 2002 in the second half of 2003, and to provide data for these years in the appropriate format to the European Home and Leisure Accident Surveillance System (EHLASS) on a similar timescale. EHLASS has now been replaced by the Injury Surveillance System (ISS) with the start of the EC's Public Health Programme 200308 (PHP) on 1 January 2003.
The PHP embraces a number of health-related work areas, one of which is injury prevention. The scope of injury prevention within the PHP extends beyond accidental injury to incorporate injuries from violence and self-harm. The Government are considering how they might contribute to this in the future.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: In the short term, as the existing data will still be available, there will probably be little impact on drafting standards relating to product safety. This will be further minimised by the inclusion of the past three years' data which has been delayed by IT problems. The Government hope to be able to publish this later this year.
Regarding the future, my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Competition, Consumers, and Markets has written to the British Standards Institution inviting it to continue to feed its ideas on evidence-based policy making into the National Standardisation Strategic Framework.
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