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Coalmining Communities

Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what specific support his Department has provided to coalmining communities since 1997 by (a) region and (b) local authority area. [154305]

Ms Beverley Hughes: Following the report of the Coalfields Task Force in 1997, the Department introduced a range of measures to provide specific support to the coalmining communities. £52 million was allocated to the Coalfields Regeneration Trust to support communities from the coalfield areas of England, Scotland and Wales, to which an additional £45 million has recently been agreed for the Trust in England over the three years to March 2005. In addition, English Partnerships and the Regional Development Agencies are delivering the National Coalfields Programme, for which the Department has provided a ringfenced budget of over £380 million, about £126 million of which has already been committed.

In addition to these coalfield specific programmes, a range of national programmes directly benefit the coalmining communities, including the Single Regeneration Budget, The Housing Investment Programme and the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund.

A detailed breakdown as requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Policies (Manchester, Gorton)

Mr. Kaufman: 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 constituency, the effects on the Manchester, Gorton constituency of his Department's policies and actions since 17 November 2000. [154497]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The principal funding which this Department has provided to Manchester in 2000-01 is shown in the table. It includes grants and borrowings approvals for revenue and capital expenditure.

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It is not possible to determine how much money has been spent since November 2000 or how much has been spent in the Gorton constituency. It is for the local authority to decide where within its boundary these resources are applied.

£ million
Nature of funding 2000-01
Revenue Support Grant282.3
Income from National Non-Domestic Rates119.6
Housing Investment Programme49.0
Transport Block Supplementary Credit Approval4.5

Electrical Contractors

Mr. Gorrie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to create a statutory UK system of registration for electrical contractors. [154307]

Ms Beverley Hughes: None. The voluntary National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting already has wide coverage among electrical contractors. The Quality Mark and Constructionline, the Government schemes for assessment and approval of contractors in the domestic and non-domestic sectors, are also operated on a voluntary basis. This gives them the necessary flexibility to react to changing circumstances in their respective markets.

Mr. Gorrie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps he is taking to promote the consistent use of the construction line system of registration for electrical contracting companies and to avoid duplication with the Health and Safety Executive's Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme. [154388]

Ms Beverley Hughes: Constructionline, the Government's register of approved contractors and consultants, is developing co-operative arrangements with the local government-operated Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS). The aim is to encourage clients to make efficient links between Constructionline and the more detailed health and safety database on CHAS and to avoid duplication for contractors which are registering on the two schemes.

Concessionary Bus Fares

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will introduce a national scheme of concessionary bus fares for pensioners; and if he will make a statement. [154309]

Mr. Hill [holding answer 19 March 2001]: We have just introduced a national minimum standard for concessionary fares schemes, requiring all authorities to ensure at least half-fare reductions for elderly people on local buses. We have no immediate plans for further standardisation, although we continue to discuss issues of this kind with interested parties.

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Foot and Mouth

Mr. Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the impact on rural policy of the recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease. [153323]

Mr. Meacher: The Government recognise the very serious impact that the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and the restrictions that are necessary to contain it are having on the rural economy generally. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has asked me to chair a task force to consider these impacts and to make recommendations on measures to help those caught up in the crisis and to kick start the rural economy once the outbreak has been eradicated. The Government's policies set out in the White Paper "Our countryside: the future (CM 4909)" published in December 2000, will set the framework for the well-being of our rural areas in the longer term.

Hybrid Bills

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if it is his policy

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to ensure that (a) an environmental assessment and (b) an informal public inquiry are carried out in respect of hybrid Bills before they are introduced. [154679]

Ms Beverley Hughes: My Department has not introduced a hybrid Bill during this Parliament. However, hybrid Bills are subject to the same pre-parliamentary processes as other Bills, which includes environmental assessments.

Departmental Policies (Lancaster and Wyre)

Mr. Dawson: 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 Lancaster and Wyre constituency, the effect on Lancaster and Wyre of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [154684]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Lancaster and Wyre constituency has benefited from funding provided to Lancaster city council, Wyre borough council and Lancashire county council. It is for the local authorities to decide where within their areas these resources are invested.

The principal funding which this Department has provided in 1997-98 to 2000-01 are shown in the table. These include grants and borrowings approvals for revenue and capital expenditure.

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£ million
Nature of funding1997-981998-991999-20002000-012001-02
Revenue Support Grant(13)6.76.66.66.57.0
Income from National Non-Domestic Rates(13)4.34.44.75.25.2
Revenue Support Grant(14)2.72.62.72.62.9
Income from National Non-Domestic Rates(14)3.33.33.64.03.9
Housing Investment Programme(15)1.82.02.33.94.3
Capital Receipts Initiative(15)n/a1.01.1n/an/a
Cash Incentive Scheme(15)000n/an/a
Housing Investment Programme(16)1.31.11.21.51.1
Capital Receipts Initiative(16)n/a0.50.5n/an/a
Cash Incentive Scheme(16)000n/an/a
ERDF Funding--Lancashire(17)0.80.31.700
ERDF Funding--Lancaster0.050.2000
ERDF Funding--Wyre00.02000
Transport Supplementary Grant3.71.72.900
Transport Annual Capital Guideline2.11.61.500
Transport Block Supplementary Credit Approval(18)4.93.15.2(18)11.028.0

(13) Figures for Lancaster city council. These figures have not been adjusted to make year on year comparisons.

(14) Figures for Wyre borough council. These figures have not been adjusted to make year on year comparisons.

(15) Figures for Lancashire county council

(16) Figures of Wyre borough council

(17) Some of the Lancashire projects are county-wide and therefore some of the grant shown may have gone to Lancaster or Wyre.

(18) 2000-01--This figure is from Lancashire county council's provisional Local Transport Plan settlement.


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Highways Agency

Mr. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the Highways Agency will publish its annual report and accounts for 1999-2000. [154910]

Mr. Hill: The Highways Agency annual report and accounts 1999-2000 has been published today and copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House.


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