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Squire Regime

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to extend the Squire regime to franchises outside PTA areas; and if he will make a statement. [78263]

Ms Glenda Jackson: There are currently no plans to extend the Squire regime to franchises outside PTA areas.

Strategic Rail Authority

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what (a) powers and (b) responsibilities he plans to give to the Strategic Rail Authority in respect of the creation of new rail links and stations. [78266]

Dr. Reid: Subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary legislation, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) will have broad powers to make payments, through grants or by contractual agreements, to achieve its objectives, including the creation of new rail links and stations. It will be able to support or oppose planning applications and orders.

The duties of the SRA will include the preparation of a strategic plan for the development of the railway, including improvements to the network. The SRA will work with other national, regional, and local organisations to promote rail within our integrated transport policy.

Greater London Authority

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list those organisations referred to in the White Paper, "A Mayor and Assembly for London" (Cm 3897), for which it was planned to transfer responsibility to the Greater London Authority but for which provision has not been made in the Greater London Authority Bill; and if he will make a statement. [78479]

Mr. Raynsford: The organisations referred to in the White Paper for which it was planned to transfer responsibility to the Greater London Authority but for which provision has not been made in the Greater London Authority Bill are listed as follows:



    Croydon Tramlink


    Docklands Light Railway


    London Heritage Forum


    London Pension Fund Authority


24 Mar 1999 : Column: 252

I last week tabled amendments to Part X of the Bill, providing for the establishment of a Cultural Strategy Group for London to replace the London Heritage Forum. We intend to bring forward amendments at a later stage to provide for the GLA taking on responsibility for the LPFA. It is our intention that responsibility for the Docklands Light Railway, Croydon Tramlink and the Woolwich Ferry should transfer to Transport for London, and are considering whether specific provisions are needed in the Bill to provide for this.

In addition, the White Paper raised the question of future responsibility for some London museums currently directly funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and some of the historic properties now managed by English Heritage that were previously the responsibility of the GLC. The White Paper also considered future arrangements for the Theatre Museum and the Museum of Childhood. Following the conclusion of his departmental CSR, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has concluded that there should be no change at the present time to the funding arrangements for these bodies, but that the GLA's role in funding the museums should be reviewed in due course. I last week tabled amendments to enable the GLA to provide funding to cultural institutions, including museums, galleries and libraries.

I am discussing the future funding of the CYM--and possible arrangements for the transfer of that funding to the GLA--with my colleagues at the Department for Education and Employment and we will make an announcement as soon as possible. Specific provision is not required in the GLA Bill to achieve any transfer.

Millennium Compliance

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions for what reason no external assessment has been made of the plans of (a) his Department, (b) the DVLA and (c) the Highways Agency for millennium compliance; and if he will make a statement. [78463]

Mr. Meale: External consultants are employed by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to assist in assessing its overall programme for millennium compliance, and by the Highways Agency to assist in assessing its millennium plans. The plans of the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency for millennium compliance are being assessed by a team of experienced computer Internal Auditors who are independent of the Agency's millennium projects.

RJB Mining

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his letter to the hon. Member for Linlithgow of 1 March, ME/PSO/2030/99, if he will make a statement on his discussion with RJB Mining on methane emissions from coal mines. [76678]

Mr. Meale: RJB Mining are continuing to investigate the proposed Canadian methodology for reducing methane emissions from coal mining and they are in contact with the relevant research bodies in Canada. The Government will continue to monitor progress with these discussions.

24 Mar 1999 : Column: 253

Channel Tunnel Shuttle Service

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received on the restriction applied to gas-powered motor vehicles being transported on the Channel Tunnel Shuttle Service; and if he will make a statement. [78342]

Dr. Reid: There have been two recent questions on this subject from the hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell) on 16 November 1998, Official Report, column 341, and the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) on 26 January 1999, Official Report, columns 154-55. There has also been one recent letter to my Department from a member of the public. In addition, the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority has dealt with one recent inquiry.

Eurotunnel will need to obtain safety approval from the bi-national Intergovernmental Commission (acting on the advice of the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority) before they can convey gas--and dual-fuelled vehicles. Subject to this safety approval being granted, the Government would welcome the opening of Shuttle services to these vehicles.

Houses (Multiple Occupation)

Ms Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the Government will publish its proposals for licensing of houses in multiple occupation for England and Wales. [78857]

Ms Armstrong: I will publish tomorrow, on 25 March, a consultation paper setting out the Government's proposals for licensing Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in England. The Under-Secretary of State for Wales, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Jones), will be publishing a similar paper for Wales.

HMOs can be home to some of the most vulnerable in our society, but are often squalid, poorly maintained and potential deathtraps. Our licensing proposals will raise standards and improve safety in HMOs, but without reducing the supply of rented accommodation.

Copies of the consultation papers will be placed in the Library of the House and will be available from the Vote Office.

24 Mar 1999 : Column: 254

TREASURY

Vehicle Excise Duty

Dr. Marek: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what environmental factors he considered in determining the capacity of engines of cars below which a reduced rate of vehicle excise duty is to be charged. [78370]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 23 March 1999]: A consultation paper setting out the options for reforming vehicle excise duty (VED), including a reduction in VED for the smallest, cleanest cars, was published on 3 November. The formal consultation period ended on 31 January. The Government considered carefully all representations received in determining the conditions for eligibility to the reduced rate of vehicle excise duty.

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many cars will attract the reduced rate of vehicle excise duty for cars with engines up to 1100 cc. [78010]

Ms Hewitt: As of September 1998, it is estimated that over 1.8 million cars will be eligible for the reduced rate of vehicle excise duty for cars of 1100cc or less.

Stamp Duty

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the revenue arising from stamp duty, broken down by each rate, and the proportions raised from (a) transactions in residential property and (b) commercial transactions for (i) 1996-97, (ii) 1997-98, (iii) 1998-99 and (iv) 1999-2000. [77189]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 17 March 1999]: The estimates are as follows.

Net receipts (7) (£ million)
Over £60,000Proportion of total (%) (8)
1996-97
Rate of stamp duty1%--
Residential transactions67565
Commercial property and land transactions38535
Total1,060100

24 Mar 1999 : Column: 253

Net receipts (7) (£ million)
Price band (£000)Price band (£000)Price band (£000)Price band (£000)Proportion of
60-250 (9)250-500over 500Totaltotal (%) (8)
1997-98
Rate of stamp duty1%1.5%2.0%----
Residential transactions6951008087560
Commercial property and land transactions1254045562040
Total8201405351,495100
1998-99 (provisional)
Rate of stamp duty(10)1%2.0%3.0%----
Residential transactions7002452151,16055
Commercial property and land transactions406582593045
Total7403101,0402,090100
1999-200 (projected)
Rate of stamp duty(10)1%2.5%3.5%----
Residential transactions7203102701,30050
Commercial property and land transactions40901,1701,30050
Total7604001,4402,600100

(7) Net receipts rounded to nearest £5 million

(8) Proportions rounded to nearest 5 per cent.

(9) In 1997-98 the 1 per cent. rate applied to transfers of all properties over £60,000 before 8 July

(10) Because of time lags, receipts in the first few weeks of the year would relate to transfers charged at the rates which applied in the previous year


24 Mar 1999 : Column: 255

24 Mar 1999 : Column: 255


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