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Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the European Parliament's decision to allow the European Commission to start issuing new licences for GM products to go on to the market in Europe from February. 
Mr. Meacher: The European Parliament has taken no such decision. The placing on the market of products consisting of or containing GMOs within the European Community is governed by Directive 90/220/EEC. The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union are currently considering a revision to this Directive under Community co-decision procedures. In accordance with these procedures, the Parliament and the Council are required to take a decision by 14 February 2001 on whether to adopt the text of a revised Directive approved jointly by a Conciliation Committee of the two institutions on 20 December 2000. On the assumption the revised Directive is adopted as currently drafted, member states and the Commission will continue to have joint responsibility, as they have under the existing directive, for taking decisions on the authorisation of the placing on the market of products controlled by the Directive. Such decisions are taken on a case-by-case basis, including detailed assessment of the measures necessary to avoid any adverse effects on human health and the environment that might arise from the authorisation of a particular product.
1 Feb 2001 : Column: 255W
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what was the estimated number of motor vehicles abandoned in the Greater London area during the month of November 2000; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: The Department holds no central records of the number of vehicles identified as abandoned. Abandoned vehicles in the Greater London area are the responsibility of the London borough councils and the Corporation of London under the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what talks have taken place with provisional bidders for NATS in regard to extra capacity and aircraft movements in British airports. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: Bidders for the NATS PPP are required to submit a long-term strategic plan covering all aspects of NATS business, including proposals for meeting the challenge of increasing demand for airspace capacity.
Ms Drown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he plans to consult on proposals for legislation to give powers to local authorities to set up schemes for selective licensing of private property owners. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning to my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Central (Mr. Lloyd) on 30 January 2001, Official Report, column 129W.
1 Feb 2001 : Column: 256W
Mr. Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what the annual cost is of giving mandatory rate relief at 50 per cent. to voluntary sports clubs in England; 
(3) how many voluntary sports clubs in (a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland are listed with the relevant agency responsible for the collection of rateable values; 
(4) how many sports clubs in England will benefit from the mandatory rate relief and discretionary relief proposals published in the Green Paper on the Local Government Finance Bill; 
(5) how many voluntary clubs in England have a rateable value of under (a) £3,000 and (b) £8,000. 
Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 31 January 2001]: The rating lists do not record the use of property as a voluntary sports club as distinct from other sports clubs, so the information is not available in the form requested. The rating lists for England include around 16,000 sports properties, including those used by voluntary clubs as well as professional and commercial sports bodies. The equivalent information requested regarding Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland relates to a devolved matter and as such is for the relevant devolved administration to provide.
Under the proposals in our Green Paper "Modernising Local Government Finance", mandatory rate relief would be available to all small businesses and non-profit making bodies in England. All 11,500 sports properties with rateable values below £8,000 would be eligible for the relief, the amount depending on their size. 7,500 sports properties with rateable values below £3,000 would be eligible for 50 per cent. mandatory relief. 3,000 properties with rateable values between £3,000 and £6,000 would be eligible for mandatory relief between 50 per cent. and 20 per cent. 1,000 properties with rateable values between £6,000 and £8,000 would be eligible for mandatory relief of less than 20 per cent., tapering to no mandatory relief above £8,000. Mandatory relief would be available to all non-profit making sports clubs, as well as commercial or professional clubs that met other tests of being a small business, as proposed in the Green Paper. We are currently considering responses to the Green Paper and will announce the final details of the proposed scheme in a White Paper later this year.
All non-profit making sports clubs are currently eligible for 100 per cent. discretionary relief and would continue to be so under the Green Paper proposals, both to top up any mandatory relief and for those clubs over the size threshold for mandatory relief. Information on the number of voluntary sports clubs eligible for discretionary relief is not held centrally.
1 Feb 2001 : Column: 257W
To give 50 per cent. mandatory relief to all 16,000 sports properties in England would cost around £35 million in 2000-01. This includes commercial and professional bodies as well as voluntary clubs, as information on voluntary clubs is not available separately. This figure does not take account of any discretionary relief which is already given to non-profit making sports clubs, nor of any transitional or other reliefs which may apply to any of these properties.
English local authorities estimate the total cost of discretionary rate relief to all non-profit making bodies at £24.5 million in 2000-01. This includes relief for non-profit making sports clubs as well as other philanthropic, educational, social, scientific, literary or fine arts bodies, excluding those which are charities. Information on how much of this was for voluntary sports clubs and the level of relief given to each club is not recorded centrally. Information is not readily available for 1998-99.
Mr. Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will publish the results of the Regulatory Impact Assessment on the administrative burden on voluntary sports clubs through the Green Paper on Local Government Finance. 
Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 31 January 2001]: We will publish the Regulatory Impact Assessment of the proposals for rate relief for small businesses and other non-profit making bodies including sports clubs in due course. If the relief were to apply to all non-profit making bodies within certain rateable value thresholds, as we currently propose, we would expect the additional burden on clubs in making an application to be minimal, and no more than is currently involved in apply for discretionary rate relief.
Mr. Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) if he will list the council housing stock voluntary transfers which (a) have taken place since 1997 and (b) are proposed by local authority, indicating the number of housing units involved in each case; 
(3) how many housing units on average were involved in each voluntary transfer of council stock since 1997. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: There have been 75 large scale voluntary transfers of council housing stock since 1997 involving 259,659 dwellings; an average of 3,462 dwellings per transfer. A further 14 are pending involving 124,633 dwellings. The tables show transfers which (a) have taken place since 1997 and (b) are proposed indicating the number of dwellings involved in each case.
1 Feb 2001 : Column: 258W
|Local authority||Number of dwellings|
|South Staffs C||5,273|
|South Oxfordshire DC||5,018|
|LB Merton--Pollards Hill||1,018|
|LB Tower Hamlets--Poplar I||1,852|
|LB Brent--Fortunegate/Church End||1,481|
|West Somerset DC||1,869|
|LB Lambeth--Lansdowne Green||681|
|LB Tower Hamlets--Poplar II||2,431|
|West Devon BC||1,446|
|South Somerset DC||8,883|
|East Lindsey DC||5,102|
|South Hams DC||3,096|
|LB Hammersmith and Fulham--Old Oak||668|
|LB Hackney--Upper Clapton||1,000|
|Telford and Wrekin C||13,081|
|Bath and North East Somerset C||9,887|
|Manchester CC--East Wythenshawe||6,667|
|LB Greenwich--Charlton Triangle||1,280|
|LB Lambeth--Central Stockwell||2,358|
|Birmingham CC--Central areas||2,813|
|LB Islington--10 estates||739|
|Liverpool CC--Speke Garston||4,382|
|West Lindsey DC||3,929|
|LB Lambeth--St. Martins||1,033|
|Newcastle Under Lyme BC||9,887|
|Manchester CC--Colshaw Farm||600|
|North Devon DC||3,293|
|LB Hackney--Stamford Hill||1,095|
|LB Hackney--Pembury Estate||1,241|
|Manchester CC--Sale Estate||1,655|
|Weymouth and Portland||3,105|
|Wyre Forest DC||6,056|
|Manchester CC--Whitefield Estate||1,033|
|LB Tower Hamlets--THCH||1,551|
|Number of authorities||259,659|
1 Feb 2001 : Column: 259W
|Local authority||Number of dwellings|
|Blackburn and Darwen||10,218|
|Manchester CC--Knutsford estates||464|
|Manchester CC--Handforth estates||664|
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