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First Group School Bus Pilot

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) if his Department has authorised the First Group School Bus pilot initiative on the basis that the vehicles are classified as coaches; and if he will make a statement; [152476]

Mr. Hill: The vehicles to be operated in the First Bus Pilot School Project are considered to be coaches. However, because they do not have any under-floor luggage space they are not required to comply with ECE Regulation 66. Before they can be used the vehicles will be modified to meet the requirements of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, as amended; the Public Service Vehicles (Conditions of Fitness, Equipment, Use and Certification) Regulations 1981, as amended; and the Road Vehicles Lighting

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Regulations 1986. These are the equivalent standards in the UK to those contained in the ECE regulations relating to the construction of large buses and coaches (ECE Category M3).

Where any of the component parts, such as the glazing, are not marked showing compliance with UK standards we have determined that the performance will be equivalent to UK standards.

On accessibility, we have agreed to exempt these vehicles from the seat spacing and destination display requirements of the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations, which are not generally relevant to school services.

Departmental Policies (Warrington, North)

Helen Jones: 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 Warrington, North constituency, the effects on Warrington, North of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [152313]

Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 6 March 2001]: The principal kinds of funding which this Department has provided to Warrington in 1997-98 to 2000-01 are shown in the table. These include grants and borrowings approvals for revenue and capital expenditure.

It is not possible to determine how much money has been spent on Warrington, North. It is for the local authority to decide where within its boundary these resources are invested.

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£ million
Nature of funding1997-981998-991999-20002000-012001-02
Revenue Support Grant(20)4.557.558.956.761.4
Income from National Non-Domestic Rates(20)5.944.548.454.853.6
Local Government Reorganisation Supplementary Credit Approval3.32.3------
Housing Investment Programme2.
Major Repairs Allowance--------5.4
Housing Revenue Account Subsidy6.
Capital Receipts Initiative--1.31.3----
Cash Incentive Scheme0.10.1------
Loan Charges Defective Housing0.0050.0050.0050.0050.005
SRB Funding(21)--
Transport Supplementary Grant(20)--0.60.7----
Transport Annual Capital Guideline(20)--0.60.7----
Transport Block Supplementary Credit Approval(20)--
Rural Bus Subsidy Grant(20)--
Capital Challenge (Supplementary Credit and Basic Credit Approvals)--0.10.1----

(20) Warrington became a unitary authority from 1 April 1998.

For 1997-98 the following funding relating to the Warrington Borough area will have gone to Cheshire County Council:

Transport Supplementary Grant

Transport ACG

Transport SCA

Rural Bus Subsidy Grant

The change to Unitary status also explains the large increases in Revenue Support Grant and National Non-Domestic Rates from 1998-99.

(21) Single Regeneration Budget--Round 4

The T.R.E.E. Project (Training and Retraining for Employment and Employability)

The four-year scheme aims to develop an innovative solution to tackle deprivation on several estates in Warrington. Three key priority areas will be tackled--training and employability, community business support and community development.

Total SRB £584,000.

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Electronic Signatures

(Departmental Communications)

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress his Department has made in implementing the

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policy objective of the increased use of electronic signatures in communications (a) between officials, (b) from officials to persons and organisations outside and (c) from persons and organisations outside to officials in his Department. [152423]

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Ms Beverley Hughes: DETR(C) is aware that Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and its associated use of encryption and digital signatures will be used to provide strong authentication, non-repudiation and confidentiality for transactions which are designated to be above Level 1 in the "Guidelines for Trust and Authentication" of the "Confidentiality Services Framework" as defined by Cabinet Office.

Our plans include:

(a) for internal use-DETR(C) is currently carrying out a routine maintenance upgrade of its networking infrastructure; the new revision of the software will support the use of electronic signatures. Further work is under way to identify appropriate electronic signature products to work with the revised infrastructure, and the most effective way to deploy them.

(b) from officials to persons and organisations outside and (c) from persons and organisations outside to officials in his Department--DETR(C) will ensure that our systems serve both the authentication needs for internal departmental communications, and for those with external persons and organisations. For that reason, we are in discussion with OGC, the E-envoy's office, CESG and the Gateway team so that the eventual solution will be compatible with facilities to be provided through the Government Gateway, the Government Secure Intranet and meet all interoperability requirements.

Nuclear Waste (Wandsworth)

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list the local and regional authorities with which he has had discussions regarding the transporting of nuclear waste by train through Wandsworth; and if he will make a statement. [152677]

Mr. Hill: No such list is maintained.

Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment

Ms Rosie Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the outcome was of the Meeting of the Parties to the UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context held in Sofia from 25 to 27 February. [152846]

Mr. Raynsford: The second meeting of the Parties to this Convention agreed to begin negotiations on a protocol to the Convention covering strategic environmental assessment with a view to its adoption at the Environment for Europe Conference at Kiev in 2003. The meeting adopted a proposal, developed under UK leadership, to establish an Implementation Committee to develop reporting procedures and to assist Parties to meet fully their obligations under the Convention. The UK will support this work and will chair the Implementation Committee for its first year. The UK also agreed to work closely with the Russian Federation on a project to develop guidelines on public participation in environmental impact assessment in a transboundary context. A decision was taken to adopt some minor amendments to the Convention. A review group was established to consider the need for further amendments, taking into account developments in environmental impact assessment since the Convention

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was signed 10 years ago, and other changes that may be necessary to harmonise with other relevant multi-lateral environmental agreements. A work programme and funding to give effect to these decisions was agreed.


Euro (Manufacturing Industry)

9. Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made of the impact of future UK membership of the single European currency on manufacturing industry in Wales. [151056]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The Government have said that they will make an assessment of the five economic tests early in the next Parliament. If the five tests have been met and there is clear and unambiguous evidence of the benefits of joining a single currency, the Government will then make a decision to recommend membership to Parliament, and then because of the magnitude of the decision, put it to a referendum of the British people.

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