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25 May 2000 : Column: 573W
Mr. Mullin: As was announced in the Gracious Speech given on 17 November 1999, Official Report, columns 4-7, we intend to publish a draft Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Bill for consultation during this session.
Ms Beverley Hughes: My Department does not keep a central record of sites under consideration for new incinerators. However, it is the responsibility of individual local planning authorities to consider planning applications for incinerators and they will keep their own records.
Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if the Government's procurement policy will include a commitment to buying timber and timber products from certified legal and sustainable sources. 
Mr. Mullin: The Government's model policy statement for greening Government operations includes a commitment to purchase sustainably produced timber and timber products by, for example, requiring suppliers to provide documentary evidence that the timber has been lawfully obtained from forests and plantations which are managed to sustain their biodiversity, productivity and vitality, and to prevent harm to other ecosystems and any indigenous or forest-dependent people.
Sir Peter Emery: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will increase the level of Standard Spending Assessments of local authorities in respect of costs specific to provision of services in rural areas. 
Ms Armstrong: Standard Spending Assessments already include elements that recognise that there are additional costs in providing services in rural areas. In the White Paper, "Modern Local Government--In Touch With The People", we said that we did not expect to make fresh changes to the method of calculation of Standard Spending Assessment while we conduct a review of the system of grant distribution.
Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what statistics relating to the responsibilities of his Department are collated by parliamentary constituency, indicating the dates covered in each case. 
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has to commission a third party to undertake independent verification of the abnormal indivisible loads notification system, with particular reference to evaluating the robustness of the software to analyse the strength of bridge structures; 
(3) on what date software was due for final delivery under Highways Agency tender no. 3-276 (Abnormal Indivisible Loads Notification System Trial); and if the software was delivered by that date. 
I refer to the recent questions you asked The Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions regarding progress of the Abnormal Indivisible Loads Notification System which is being developed for the Highways Agency under tender number 3/276. The Secretary of State has asked me to provide you with a detailed reply since it concerns an operational matter for the Highways Agency.
The contractor (W. S. Atkins) has yet to appoint the independent checker to evaluate the structural software associated with the system. However this remains a contractual requirement and will be undertaken prior to the completion of the trial. This element of the system is subject to the Highways Agency's Technical Approval procedures. Consequently, the appointment of the independent checker will be subject to the agreement of the Highways Agency as the Technical Approval Authority.
It was envisaged that the internal trial of the Abnormal Indivisible Loads computer system would be carried out (in Highways Agency Maintenance Area 2) following a six month development period, and once the system had been checked and validated to the satisfaction of the Highways Agency's Designated Officer. The contract was awarded on 11 October 1999 and is scheduled to run for a period of twelve months. However, amendments to the contract programme agreed by the Highways Agency have resulted in the validation testing being delayed from 10 April 2000 until 10 July 2000 with a start revised date for the internal trial of the 1 August 2000. Final delivery of software was originally due 12 months after contract award, following the development and trial phases. It is now programmed for 11 January 2001.
A programme for external application (in other Highways Agency Maintenance Areas) of the automated abnormal load system has yet to be finalised. This will depend on the outcome of the trial and agreement between other interests responsible for dealing with abnormal loads including DETR, local highway authorities and other bridge owners.
I hope this provides you with the information you require. However, should you wish to discuss the project further, our Designated Officer for the contract, Martin Lynch, would be pleased to hear from you. He can be contacted on Tel: 0117 987 8560.
Mr. St. Aubyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) which (a) countries and (b) sections of the European Commission his Department consulted before announcing the change in its hydrofluorocarbons policy, referred to in DETR Climate Change Programme-HFC Policy Change; 
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(3) which (a) engineering bodies, (b) industry bodies and (c) manufacturers in the United Kingdom air conditioning and refrigeration industry his Department consulted before announcing the change in its hydrofluorocarbons policy, referred to in DETR Climate Change Programme-HFC Policy Change. 
Mr. Meacher: My Department did not hold any formal consultation before the Government's new HFC policy was announced in the draft climate change programme, which was published for consultation on 9 March 2000. However, officials have been involved in meetings that have taken place at international and European level between technical experts, industry representatives, officials from other countries and officials from the environment and enterprise sections of the European Commission on the use and projected trends in emissions of hydrofluorocarbons.
In addition my Department commissioned a report in 1998 from March Consulting Group to provide updated annual UK emissions data for HFCs, PFCs and SF 6 in each user sector. This also covered projects to 2020 and assessed the costs and benefits of options to reduce future emissions. In compiling their report, March Consulting Group consulted many companies within the UK air conditioning and refrigeration industry, and industry was given the opportunity to comment on the report.
My Department has not formally consulted other countries about the new HFC policy. However, several countries such as France, Italy, Germany and Finland indicated initial broad support at official level. Other countries will be considering their policies on HFCs as part of their development of programmes to deliver their Kyoto targets, but few have yet made clear statements on their position. The Danish Government have recently announced their new HFC policy, which would ban the use of HFCs in many applications.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many laptop computers used by Ministers, officials and special advisers in his Department have been (a) lost and (b) stolen since May 1997. 
Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement about the programme for transferring existing organisations or parts of organisations to the Greater London Authority, London Transport Users' Committee, Transport for London and the London Development Agency. 
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Mr. Hill: The transfers of existing bodies takes place on four main dates. As I announced in response to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, Central (Mr. Davies) on 1 April 2000, Official Report, columns 420-21W, the London Ecology Committee, London Planning Advisory Committee and London Research Centre were abolished, and their staff, assets and liabilities were temporarily transferred to the Secretary of State.
On 8 May these staff, assets and liabilities (other than those relating to a small number of London Research Centre staff who will transfer later to Transport for London) transferred to the Greater London Authority (GLA), along with a small number of planning staff from the Government Office for London, and the GLA Transition Team and staff newly recruited for the GLA.
Transfers to Transport for London (TfL) and the London Development Agency (LDA), and to the London Transport Users Committee (LTUC), will take place on 3 July. On that date the following will transfer to TfL:
the Traffic Control Systems Unit;
the staff, assets and liabilities of the Traffic Director for London;
the Docklands Light Railway;
the part of the Highways Agency dealing with London roads;
certain roads from London boroughs and the City of London;
certain roads in Docklands from the Commission for the New Towns;
the Public Carriage Office;
a small number of staff from the Government Office for London, and from the centre of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.
some staff from the Government Office for London, together with staff newly recruited for the LDA.
Most of the above transfers will be achieved through transfer schemes prepared under powers in section 409 of the GLA Act. In preparing their transfer schemes, predecessor bodies are identifying which of their property, rights and liabilities, such as buildings, contracts, staff or other assets, will transfer to the GLA's functional bodies and which will remain with the predecessor body itself or be transferred elsewhere. Among other things, they will need to consider whether existing contracts can transfer in their existing form or whether changes will be needed to meet the needs of the functional bodies.
In addition, those predecessor bodies, such as the Highways Agency, which are designated as Public Records bodies under the Public Records Act 1958 will need to review those records which are intended to transfer to the functional bodies to see whether particular records are worthy of preservation in the national archive. Predecessor bodies will also need to identify whether all of their existing records are appropriate for transfer to the functional bodies, on the basis that all relevant records should transfer, unless
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they identify any papers, such as advice to Ministers of the present and previous administrations, which would be inappropriate for transfer. We expect that each predecessor body will identify very few, if any, papers which are unsuitable for transfer. In conducting this exercise they will need to ensure that they take full account of existing and proposed freedom of information legislation and the openness regime under which the GLA and functional bodies will operate.
To permit the GlA, TfL and LDA to start functioning immediately on their respective start dates, orders to facilitate the transition have been made under powers in sections 405 and 406 of the GLA Act. These enable the new organisations to make arrangements for their financial operations and, where necessary, to prepare standing orders for their initial meetings. In addition temporary appointments of certain statutory office holders in the GLA, TfL and LDA have been made by the Secretary of State using powers in section 407 of the GLA Act.
To remove any doubts about the application of the Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 to transfers of staff to the new organisations, an order has been made applying the 1981 Regulations to all transfers of staff by means of transfer schemes or orders under the GLA Act powers. A further order added the new organisations to the list of bodies eligible to be members of the Local Government Pension Scheme.
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