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Youth Consultation

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps he is taking to consult young people about Government policy. [144201]

Mr. Boateng: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave on 8 January 2001, Official Report, column 395W.

Steiner Education Techniques

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans the Government have to fund the provision of Steiner education techniques in maintained schools. [145723]

Ms Estelle Morris: We have been considering with the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship what the scope might be for providing public funding to Steiner schools. These discussions continue and no conclusions have yet been reached.

Personal and Social Education

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will issue new guidelines on the provision of appropriate education on

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health, relationships and sexual orientation for pupils aged 16 and over. [144088]

Mr. Wicks: We have no current plans to issue guidelines on health, relationship and sexual orientation for pupils over 16. However, the DfEE does provide Sex and Relationship Education Guidance which applies to pupils aged five to 16 in maintained schools.

ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS

Islington

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what total Government expenditure on the London Borough of Islington (a) was for each of the past five years and (b) is planned for 2001-02, broken down into (i) revenue support order Standard Spending Assessment (ii) education special projects, (iii) housing capital spending, (iv) single regeneration budget and (v) crime prevention. [143399]

Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 20 December 2000]: The information requested is, as far as possible, given in the table:

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£ million

(a) (b)
1996-971997-981998-991999-20002000-012001-02
(i) Standing Spending Assessment214.883216.529221.852229.205240.298245.944
(i) Revenue Support Grant(21)139.547142.351141.390143.336146.390(1) 151.853
(2) 149.746
(iii) Education Special Projects: Education Action Zone------0.5000.5000.500
(ii) Housing Investment Programme0.0149.9968.1709.81628.55712.863
(iv) Single Regeneration Budget(22)0.5262.9957.9618.2798.447(23)5.944
(v) Crime Prevention------0.9770.790(24)--

(21) We are currently consulting on two options for 2001-02. The first option (1) proposes the introduction of a 'floor and ceiling', the second option (2) proposes using the same damping rules as 2000-01.

(22) These are the SRB figures for the Kings Cross Partnership scheme. There are two other SRB schemes from which Islington benefit, however it is not possible to identify the spend in Islington as they are multi-borough schemes.

(23) Estimated .

(24) Not yet known.

Notes:

1. The Education Standard Spending Assessment allocation, which provides for some education special projects, is included in the figures at (i). Information on funding for individual education special projects cannot be aggregated centrally.

2. The Crime Reduction Programme is funded by the Home Office. It started in April 1999 and is due to end in 2002. Figures include those for the Targeted Police Initiative, CCTV, Youth Inclusion Programme, Drug Arrest Referral Initiative and the Crime Reduction in Secondary Schools Initiative.


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ACRE

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how he proposes to ensure that, where the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment provides advice to him that will rely on research which has not been peer reviewed or previously published, the wider scientific and research community is informed of it in order to provide a check on the advice to Government. [142570]

Mr. Meacher: I ensure that the wider scientific and research community is informed by making the documents and advice available to the public as outlined. Later this year we plan to improve availability by placing copies of applications for consent, including the supporting research results, on the Department's website.

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The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) provides statutory advice to Government on applications for consent to release genetically modified organisms for research purposes or for placing on the market as products. The information in the applications has to be based on the results of research that must either be included with the application or available in the public domain. Specific information from the application is placed on the statutory public register held in my Department and the entire application, including research results, is available on request. ACRE's advice is also placed on the public register and their advice and minutes of their meetings are on the Department's website. The entire process is therefore open to scrutiny.

However, the European and domestic legislation make provision for the applicant to request that certain

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information to be deemed commercial in confidence and not disclosed. This cannot apply to information about environmental risks, which cannot be kept confidential. In this country we endeavour to ensure that commercial in confidence information submitted in applications is kept to a minimum and only permit specific information to be withheld while it is the subject of an application for intellectual property rights. Thereafter that information is also made public.

Where another member state is the lead competent authority dealing with an application to place a GMO product on the market, the status of the information submitted is a matter for that lead member state to decide. In the past this has resulted in some documents submitted to support applications being withheld.

Environment Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the outcome was of the Environment Council held in Brussels on 18 and 19 December; and if he will make a statement. [143755]

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the matters discussed and issues decided upon at the Ministerial Environment Council on 18 and 19 December 2000. [145277]

Mr. Meacher: The Deputy Prime Minister and I represented the UK at the Environment Council in Brussels on 18 and 19 December 2000. One Common Position was agreed, one proposal was adopted at First Reading in agreement with the European Parliament, and three sets of Council Conclusions were agreed.

The Council expressed its willingness to meet in Oslo for discussions on climate change with the Umbrella Group (including the US, Japan, Canada and Australia). After a lunchtime telephone discussion between the Troika and representatives of the Group, the Presidency reported that the Oslo meeting would not take place as the Group felt there to be insufficient common ground at the present time. Council Conclusions broadly reflect the outcome of these discussions, although the UK made a minutes statement to clarify one part of the Conclusions.

Council reached agreement on a Community Framework for co-operation to promote sustainable urban development. The Council agreed on a budget of euro 14 million over a four-year period from 2001, the same figure as finally proposed by the European Parliament in amending the Commission's original proposal of euro 12.5 million over the same period. Since Council agreed the proposal in the same terms as voted by the European Parliament it was adopted without the need for a second reading.

Council reached Common Position on the proposed Framework Directive on Assessment and Management of Environmental Noise. This will introduce a common EU standard for noise measurement, harmonised noise level monitoring and mapping, along with a new EU noise indicator, but does not impose an EU wide limit value for ambient noise. Council also invited the Commission to make proposals for new or more stringent binding noise emissions limits from specific sources, including vehicles and outdoor machinery.

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Conclusions were agreed on global environmental governance, essentially to strengthen the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and improve the co-ordination of international environmental institutions. The EU will look into the possibilities of increasing its contribution to UNEP providing other contributors do likewise. Detailed proposals on these issues will be developed for discussion at the European Council in Gothenburg next June, in preparation for the Rio + 10 Conference in 2002.

Proposals for Directives on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and Restriction of use of certain Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS) were discussed. The Presidency explained that the EP had not given its opinion so Common Position was not achievable, but it aimed to develop a view on a common approach. I made it clear that the proposals had not cleared Parliamentary Scrutiny and I could not, therefore, agree a text. However, a useful discussion enabled a clearer view to emerge of the possible range for agreement on the timetables for producer responsibility, and for recovery and recycling targets.

Council adopted, without debate, brief Conclusions on the Commission's review of the Auto Oils II programme calling for further proposals on fuel specifications and the control of vehicle emissions. Orientation debates were held on: the application of the Aarhus Convention to European Institutions, as regards access to environmental information; the Commission's white paper on Environmental Liability; and on traceability and labelling of GMOs.

Over dinner Ministers received informal progress reports from the Commission on the following, as there had been no time for taking these items during Council: Sixth Environmental Action Plan; the review of the EU chemical legislation; the planned Green Paper on Integrated Product Policy; Community guidelines on State Aid for the Environment; international negotiations on the Persistent Organic Pollutants Convention; and the Resolution adopted by the General Affairs Council on 4-5 December on the Precautionary Principle.


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