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Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions in what way his Department is revising its internal guidance to staff for writing and distributing e-mails; for what reasons his Department is revising this guidance; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the current internal guidance on e-mail procedures. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: General advice to staff on the use of e-mail is contained within the Staff Handbook, in particular rules governing inappropriate use of Departmental resources, and is supported by guidance. It is being reviewed to ensure it remains appropriate and conforms to recent legislation on human rights, data protection and regulation of investigatory powers. When the review is completed the resulting policy, procedures and guidance will all be placed in the Staff Handbook.
Concern about the effects of information overload on the work of the Department has led to some simple 'golden rules' that help everyone to handle e-mail efficiently. An expanded set is to be considered by the Departmental Board for issue shortly.
Ms Kelly: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Bolton, West constituency, the effects on Bolton, West of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. 
Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 5 March 2001]: The principal kinds of funding which this Department has allocated to Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council in 1997-88 to 2001-02 are shown in the table. These include grants and borrowings approvals for revenue and capital expenditure.
6 Mar 2001 : Column: 149W
|Nature of funding||1997-98||1998-99||1999-2000||2000-01||2001-02|
|Revenue support grant||100.7||109.0||112.6||111.1||117.5|
|Income from national non-domestic rates||57.9||60.4||65.6||74.5||72.7|
|Housing investment programme||6.5||6.0||7.0||15.9||17.9|
|Capital receipts initiative||--||3.3||3.8||--||--|
|SRB funding (see note 1)||4.2||3.4||3.5||--||--|
|Neighbourhood renewal fund||--||--||--||--||2.7|
|ERDF funding (see note 2)||--||0.4||1.4||1.6||--|
|Transport supplementary grant||0.3||0.6||1.8||--||--|
|Transport annual capital guideline||0.1||0.7||1.8||--||--|
|Transport block supplementary credit approval||1.5||0.6||0.8||2.9||6.5|
6 Mar 2001 : Column: 151W
1. Derby, Daubhill and Dean, Bolton
A four-year scheme from the local authority-led partnership. A holistic approach to regeneration in an area with a significant proportion of ethnic residents. SRB total is £11.8 million. Scheme total £80 million.
2. European Funding
The Bolton partnership received approvals between March 1998 and November 1999 for five action plans and one free standing project with a total grant of £9.6 million against a total eligible expenditure of £31.6 million. To date they have claimed £3.4 million, but are expected to claim the remainder by the end of the programme in December 2001.
Ms Beverley Hughes: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning to my hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Plaskitt) on 5 March 2001, Official Report, columns 60-61W, in which he announced the intention to amend Part L of the Building Regulations in August this year. These amendments should come into force six months later, in February 2002.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what the average consumption is of energy in kilowatt hours per square metre of new homes built to existing building regulations in (a) England and Wales, (b) Sweden, (c) Germany, (d) Denmark and (e) the Netherlands; and what will happen in England and Wales following the proposed changes to Part L of the building regulations; 
Ms Beverley Hughes: My Department does not systematically collect data on the development of energy efficient building regulations in all member states. However, in 1998, a study of the standards in Denmark, Germany, Holland and Sweden was commissioned as a preliminary to the current review of energy conservation standards in England and Wales. The results of these investigations were published in January 1999. Our proposals for improving standards published in last summer's consultation document took these results into account, and would keep us broadly in line with NW Europe while remaining proportionate in our national efforts to control carbon emissions from buildings without running excessive risks of construction defects.
We do not have data on the average consumption of energy in kilowatt hours per square metre of new homes built to existing building regulations in Sweden, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. With regard to England and Wales, and in answer to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington
6 Mar 2001 : Column: 152W
(Mr. Plaskitt) on 5 March 2001, Official Report, columns 60-61W, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning indicated the fabric insulation performance standard we propose to introduce as a result of the review of Part L of the Building Regulations. The table gives an indication of the average energy consumption of an indicative new home in the UK built to the current Building Regulations, and of one built to the proposed new standards.
|Requirements||Average annual delivered energy consumption per square metre of floor area for heating and hot water kWh/m(16) pa|
|As announced on 5 March as intended to come into effect in February 2002||103.4|
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: The Environment Agency has recently announced that time limits for abstraction licences will generally be for 12 years, striking a fair balance between environmental protection and abstractors' needs for stability. There will be a presumption of renewal of licences, so that where sufficient water resources are available licences will be renewed.
Time limits longer than 12 years may be given in particular circumstances, such as for infrastructure investments, subject to detailed economic and environmental appraisal. The Agency works closely with abstractors to take into account their particular circumstances, and will implement the new arrangements in a way which minimises the disruption to business.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to change the powers of the Environment Agency so that it can actively promote hydropower schemes. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: At the request of the British Hydropower Association, officials from my Department are due to meet representatives of the association on 8 March to discuss among other issues the draft Water Bill.
6 Mar 2001 : Column: 153W
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to end the requirement for low-head hydro schemes across existing weirs to have to apply for an abstraction licence. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: Low-head hydro schemes, while they do not consume water, can affect river flows and other river users. We therefore have no plans to end the requirement for low-head hydro schemes across existing weirs to have an abstraction licence. Each case needs to be considered on its merits.
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