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Exports (Indonesia)

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how much loan and cover is required from the Export Credits Guarantee Department for the 16 Hawk jets which were to be supplied to Indonesia after 1 May 1997. [32683]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 3 March 1998]: ECGD supported a £280 million loan for these aircraft in March 1996. The principal and interest guaranteed in respect to this loan totals £362 million.

Technology Transfer

Mr. Stunell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what action her Department is taking in the development of technology transfer to developing countries under the auspices of the convention on biological diversity. [31988]

Mr. Battle: My Department's approach to technology co-operation relevant to the objectives of the convention on biological diversity is the same as that which applies to environment-related technologies more generally. It continues to promote a framework of policies nationally and internationally, including effective protection of intellectual property rights, which encourages private investment in developing, commercialising and diffusing technology.

To provide practical help, following the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 where the Convention on Biological Diversity was agreed, the UK launched the Technology Partnership Initiative. TPI, which is run by the Joint (DTI/DETR) Environmental Markets Unit (JEMU), aims to improve access by business in developing countries to

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information on up-to-date technological solutions and best practice available from UK companies, and foster improved business to business contacts.

French Lorry Blockades (Compensation)

Mr. Baker: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many claims for compensation have been submitted to the French authorities since 1 January 1995 following lorry blockades; and how many have been (a) paid in full, (b) paid in part and (c) not paid at all. [31923]

Ms Glenda Jackson [holding answer 2 March 1998]: I have been asked to reply.

I regret that this information is not available. My Department provided detailed advice and assistance in respect of the 1996 blockades, during which many UK hauliers were stranded, and forwarded those claims that were routed through it. Other claims were submitted direct to the French authorities and so we do not know the total number. Settlement and payment of claims is a matter between the French authorities and individual claimants. My Department is continuing to work closely with the French authorities to ensure that claims are dealt with fairly within the framework of French law.

HOUSE OF COMMONS

Parliamentary Estate

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee how much has been spent on (a) building and (b) refurbishing works in the parliamentary estate in each of the last five years. [32545]

Sir Sydney Chapman: The responsibility of the Accommodation and Works Committee extends only to areas of the Parliamentary estate administered by the House of Commons. Gross expenditure from the House of Commons Works Vote in each of the past five years is as tabulated.

£ million
Financial YearNew worksMaintenance
1993-9416.4488.898
1994-9513.4588.663
1995-9625.3317.556
1996-9741.2686.351
1997-98 (to date)39.8957.756

ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS

Ministerial Meetings

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many meetings have been requested with his Department's Ministers by (a) Labour and (b) Conservative hon. Members; and how many meetings have been granted in each category. [31290]

Angela Eagle: Ministers at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions receive numerous requests for meetings from both hon. Members

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and organisations on the full range of the Department's responsibilities. Since 1 May 1997, Ministers have held 277 meetings at which hon. Members were present.

House Building

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his oral statement of 23 February 1998, Official Report, columns 21-25, if he will now reduce the targets for new housebuilding in the West Midlands region in the current plan period. [31512]

Mr. Raynsford: No. The revised provision of 335,000 for the region was based on comprehensive advice from the West Midlands Forum of Local Authorities who worked with both the House Builders Federation and the Council for the Protection of Rural England in arriving at that advice.

This level of provision over the 20 year period 1991-2011 requires no more than maintaining the level of housebuilding achieved in the region during the 1990s.

Green-field Sites

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is his policy in respect of the development of new towns on green-field sites; and what representations he has received on Eagle Star's proposals for Micheldever Station, Hampshire. [31874]

Mr. Raynsford: National planning policy guidance on new settlements is set out in PPGs 3 and 13, and the recent policy document "Planning for the Communities of the Future" (Cmd 3885). It is for local authorities to decide their policy on new settlements in the light of their development plan strategy and the need to promote sustainable patterns of development.

Since the publication of the Hampshire Structure Plan EIP panel report the Government have received around 30 letters of representation concerning the new settlement proposals at Micheldever Station. Lord Lucas also tabled a Lords question in June 1997. The Dever Society has recently sent me a copy of a Sustainability Assessment of BAT/Eagle Star's proposal, prepared for them by Land-Use Consultants.

Leaseholders

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assistance local authorities are able to offer to leaseholders who are unable to meet their share of the cost of improvement works; what additional assistance the Government propose to offer; and if he will make a statement. [31652]

Mr. Raynsford: There are a number of options available to local authorities to assist their leaseholders. The previous Government issued directions to local authorities and other social landlords, allowing them to reduce charges for works of improvement, repair and maintenance in some cases, and requiring them to do so in certain cases where central Government funding was being sought. Other options available to authorities include deferring charges, abating charges in extreme hardship cases, or offering discretionary loans. Local authorities also have powers to repurchase properties. It

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is for each authority to decide what help it can give, having regard to its existing housing priorities and its available resources.

We are considering, in the context of our Comprehensive Spending Review, whether further measures are needed to help leaseholders. We intend to publish a consultation paper later this Spring on a range of issues of concern to leaseholders.

Bathing Water

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what new steps his Department is taking to increase the number of bathing waters in the Blackpool/Fylde coast area that comply with EU standards. [31661]

Angela Eagle: Following my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment's call on the Environment Agency and North West Water to work together to identify the causes of failure of these bathing waters and improve performance, they announced on 26 February plans for action both in the short and long term to increase compliance with the EU standards. The Government welcome this announcement and the high priority being given to improving bathing water quality standards along this stretch of coast.

Public Interest Reports

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions under what statutory authority local authorities make a financial charge for sending out copies of district auditors' public interest reports. [31744]

Mr. Raynsford: Section 18(5) of the Local Government Finance Act 1982 requires a local authority to include with the documents open to public inspection before a meeting, a copy of any report prepared by an auditor under section 15(3) of the 1982 Act, which is to be discussed at the meeting. Section 100H of the Local Government Act 1972 provides that members of the public may require copies of such documents upon payment of a reasonable fee. Section 18A of the 1982 Act requires a local authority to provide to any member of the public on request, on payment of a reasonable sum, a copy of, or of part of, any report by an auditor under section 15(3) of the Act made to the authority before the conclusion of the audit.


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