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Radioactive Waste

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he expects to release the report on the status of radioactive waste management at Dounreay prepared by the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee. [62392]

Mr. Meacher: I have not yet received the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee's report on Dounreay, but I understand that it is to be supplied to Ministers by the Committee shortly. The Committee itself publishes all the advice it gives to Government.

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what levels of radioactive discharges have been notified from each site on the Sellafield complex in each of the last five years. [62490]

Mr. Meacher: The data for years 1996 and 1997 are in the Environment Agency's Annual Reports for those years. For the preceding years 1993 to 1995, the data are contained in annual discharge returns, provided by BNFL and UKAEA, which relate to discharges from major stacks and approved places on the sites. The data are available on request from the public register at the Environment Agency North West Regional Office, Warrington, Cheshire and other local authority public registers in Cumbria and Lancashire.

I have asked the Environment Agency to collate data specifically for the Sellafield complex and I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of the letter in the Library as soon as this is available.

8 Dec 1998 : Column: 122

British Gas

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received from British Gas plc concerning participation in a voluntary agreement relating to misleading environmental claims. [62377]

Mr. Meacher: My Department has received no representations from British Gas plc on this matter.

Drivers (Epilepsy)

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has further to reduce the duration of the driving ban that follows an epileptic fit; and if he will make a statement. [62527]

Ms Glenda Jackson: There are at present no plans to reduce from one year the period for which an ordinary driving licence is withdrawn following an epileptic attack. As with other medical conditions, however, the situation is kept under review, taking account of expert advice.

Asbestos

Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the extent of illicit recycling of asbestos into building materials; and if he will make a statement. [62358]

8 Dec 1998 : Column: 123

Mr. Raynsford: Asbestos waste is controlled under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Special Waste Regulations 1996. The Environment Agency has responsibility for the enforcement of the relevant legislation.

The Environment Agency has no evidence to indicate that asbestos is being illicitly recycled into building materials.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what discussions his Department has had with the British Occupational Hygiene Society on the dangers to working people of contact with asbestos; and if he will make a statement. [62596]

Mr. Meacher: The Health and Safety Executive and British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) are in regular contact, and are planning a series of joint roadshows scheduled for early next summer to raise awareness of the dangers of contact with asbestos at work and to explain how to reduce the risks.

Rural Bus Challenge Competition

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he expects to announce the results of the Rural Bus Challenge Competition. [62694]

Ms Glenda Jackson: I am currently assessing 214 bids, which have been received. I hope to make an announcement shortly.

Local Government Pension Scheme

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what would be the estimated annual cost of extending the Local Government Pension Scheme (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 1997 regarding spouses' pensions to spouses who remarried or started to co-habit prior to 1 April 1998. [62690]

Mr. Raynsford: This information is not available. An actuarial assessment of the cost of providing spouses' pensions for life was carried out on behalf of the United Kingdom Steering Committee on local government pensions prior to introducing this improvement into the Local Government Pension Scheme from 1 April 1998. However, this did not identify the cost of surviving spouses' pensions for widows or widowers who were already re-married or co-habiting before that date.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the total costs were of medical investigations, inquiries and examinations incurred by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in the most recent financial year for which figures are available; and what proportion of these costs related to drivers aged 70 years or over. [62795]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The total cost in 1997-98 of medical inquiries was £5.7 million of which £2.2 million was spent on medical reports and examinations. The proportion of these costs attributable to drivers aged over 70 is not available.

8 Dec 1998 : Column: 124

Housing Revenue Account (Oldham)

Mr. Woolas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the financial impact on Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council of the implementation of the 3,000 homes limit on subsidy recalculation of the housing revenue account. [62687]

Mr. Raynsford: Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council transferred 642 properties on the Limehurst Village estate to Limehurst Village Trust in March 1998. The number of properties transferred fell below the threshold (the lower of 3,000 dwellings or 10 per cent. of the authority's current stock) at which Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Subsidy would be recalculated for 1998-99. Oldham was required to consider the effects on subsidy before deciding to make the transfer. If subsidy had been recalculated, it is estimated that Oldham MBC would have received an additional £490,000 in HRA subsidy for 1998-99.

Motorways

Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many miles of motorway were (a) completed and (b) under construction in (i) 1979 and (ii) 1997. [63101]

Ms Glenda Jackson: During 1979, 41.3 miles of motorway were completed out of a total of 120.2 miles of motorway which were under construction at some time in the year. During 1997, 42.7 miles of motorway were completed out of a total of 87.7 miles of motorway which were under construction at some time in the year. These figures include some motorway widening.

Rail Fares

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many rail fares have, since 1 January 1998, (a) increased by more than 5 per cent., (b) increased by 3 to 5 per cent., (c) increased by 0 to 3 per cent., (d) remained unchanged and (e) decreased. [62889]

Ms Glenda Jackson: This information is not available in the form requested.

Under the Railways Act 1993 the regulation of fares is a matter for the Franchising Director. The Franchising Director regulates at least one fare between any two points on the network. Other fares, particularly discounted fares for off-peak travel, are set by the train operators. The Government have recently conducted research into the effects of fares regulation, based upon the fare actually paid by the passenger. The increase in average fares paid for 1995-96 and 1996-97 was 2.36 per cent, marginally below the RPI of 2.40 per cent. The increase between 1996-97 and 1997-98 was 3 per cent, below the RPI figure of 4 per cent. Between 1995-96 and 1996-97, the rate of increase in average fare paid fell below RPI for the first time since 1989-90.

Rail Cards

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) how many young persons' rail cards were issued in each of the last 10 years; [62890]

8 Dec 1998 : Column: 125

Ms Glenda Jackson: The information requested is in the table. Details of railcard sales in 1988-89 and 1989-90 are not available.

Financial yearYoung Persons' RailcardSenior Railcard
1997-98722,443679,664
1996-97723,524605,040
1995-96683,719569,904
1994-95704,071630,205
1993-94652,840681,425
1992-93678,933712,563
1991-92712,672760,648
1990-91676,561930,393


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