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Genetically Modified Organisms

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many inspections have been made of the releases of GM crops involved in the farm-scale evaluations; and how many breaches of the consent conditions have been detected. [156462]

Mr. Meacher: Forty four inspections have been undertaken of farm-scale evaluations sites in England. No breaches of consent have been detected.

Local Authority Publicity

Mr. Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he plans to issue alterations to the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity; and if he will make a statement. [156819]

Ms Armstrong: We have today issued, to all county councils, district councils and London borough councils in England, alterations to the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity, a draft of which was laid before the House on 15 February 2001. These alterations reflect the new council constitutions and the introduction of referendums and petitions under the Local Government Act 2000.

As announced by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State on 15 February 2001, Official Report, column 220W, we also intend in the future to review further the Code, having regard to councils' experiences of operating their new constitutions over a reasonable period of time. This further review will also cover the Code's application to those authorities--such as police authorities--which are not adopting new constitutions.

A copy of the alterations have been placed in the Library of the House.

British Waterways Board

Ms Rosie Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the external financing limit for the British Waterways Board. [156854]

Mr. Robert Ainsworth: The 2000-01 External Financing Limit for the British Waterways Board will be increased by £3,680,000 from £61,240,000 to £64,920,000. £3,130,000 has been made available to help the Board meet increased costs associated with recent flooding. £550,000 will enable them to carry out additional major repairs to the canal network. These costs will be funded by an increase in grant-in-aid to the Board arising from savings on Class III, Vote 3 and from transfers from the non-voted element of DETR's main DEL.

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Street Works

Mr. Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he will activate powers under section 74 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 to allow highway authorities to charge utilities whose works overrun. [156855]

Mr. Hill: Regulations activating the powers under section 74 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 to allow highway authorities to charge utilities whose works overrun came into force on 1 April. We will be monitoring very closely the effect which the new powers have on the level of disruption to road users caused by street works. We have made clear that if it becomes apparent that these have not led to a sufficient reduction in disruption, then the Government are prepared to introduce further measures to address this problem.

We are also issuing today two related publications. The first of these--"Best Practice in Street Works and Highway Works"--is designed to encourage utilities and highway authorities carrying out works in the street to make sure that these are completed speedily and to a high standard. Copies are being sent to every utility and highway authority. The other--a revision of the existing "Code of Practice for the Co-ordination of Street Works and Works for Road Purposes and Related Matters" is intended, among other things, to ensure that works carried out by different bodies are co-ordinated effectively, so as to minimise disruption.

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to provide compensation for (a) zoos which are forced to close as a foot and mouth disease precaution and (b) supplies of goods and services to zoos. [156582]

Mr. Meacher: I recognise that some Zoos, in common with other enterprises relying on visitor income, have been badly affected by the impact of foot and mouth disease and our first priority is to encourage visitors to return, where it is safe to do so. Zoos, together with other affected businesses can benefit from the package of short term measures which I announced on 20 March 2001, Official Report, columns 191-210, including the deferral and rearrangement of payments to Customs, Inland Revenue and of business rates. The Rural Task Force is continuing to look at the scope for additional measures to help rural businesses severely affected by the economic impacts of foot and mouth disease.

Garage Fuels

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the chemical content is of (a) ultra-low sulphur fuels and (b) other types of fuels used in UK garages. [156351]

Mr. Hain: I have been asked to reply.

Four main types of fuel are sold at UK garages. These are 95 octane unleaded petrol, 97 octane unleaded petrol (superunleaded), lead replacement petrol (LRP) and diesel (DERV).

The technical requirements for these fuels, including chemical composition, are covered by the European Fuels Directive 98/70/EC, as transposed into UK law by the

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Motor Fuels (Composition and Content) Regulations 1999. The fuels also meet the requirements of the following British Standards: for 95 octane unleaded, BS EN228:2000, for 97 octane unleaded BS 7800:2000, and for DERV BS EN 590:2000.

Ultra-low sulphur fuels are required to meet the following additional requirements: for petrol of any type listed above a maximum sulphur content of 50ppm as opposed to 150ppm allowed in 98/70/EC, and a maximum aromatics content of 35 per cent. vol. as opposed to 42 per cent. in 98/70/EC, for diesel fuel a maximum sulphur content of 50ppm as opposed to 350ppm allowed in 98/70/EC, and a maximum density of 835 kg/m3 as opposed to 845 kg/m3. The requirements for autogas (LPG), which is now available at nearly 700 sites around the UK, are covered by BS EN 589:2000.

Correspondence

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the Minister for the Environment will answer the letter of 14 March from the hon. Member for North Essex, concerning discretionary powers for highway authorities to close roads to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease. [156276]

Mr. Meacher: I will reply to the hon. Member's letter very shortly.

DEFENCE

Hercules W. Mark II

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of the 'Snoopy' Hercules W Mark II aircraft at Boscombe Down. [156004]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 29 March 2001]: The 'Snoopy' aircraft, although owned by the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), has been used exclusively for research trials by the Met Office using RAF crews. The current contract with the Met Office expired on 31 March 2001, after which DERA has a short term contract with the Met Office for the controlled removal of their equipment. In parallel DERA is actively seeking alternative customers for the aircraft. The situation will be reviewed in March 2002.

From July 2002 the Met Office will carry out the meteorological research role, currently performed by the DERA Hercules, in partnership with the Natural Environmental Research Council and University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, using a British Aerospace 146-300 region jet operated by British Aerospace Systems from Woodford, Manchester.

Defence Aviation Repair Agency

Mr. Andy King: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of the Defence Aviation Repair Agency. [156889]

Mr. Spellar: When my predecessor announced the creation of the Defence Aviation Repair Agency (DARA) as a Defence Agency, with effect from 1 April 1999, he stated the intention to move the organisation to Trading Fund status as soon as practicable. Following the approval

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by this House and the enactment of the requisite Statutory Instrument, DARA will now become a Trading Fund from 1 April 2001.

In allowing DARA to move to Trading Fund status, we untie it from the Vote funding system. DARA will now be able to earn revenue directly from its customers and reinvest its trading surplus in new plant or machinery to meet its customers' requirements.

Customers will now have a clear and transparent pricing structure that will allow them to choose the services that offer the best value for money while helping to maintain robust and healthy competition in the aviation repair industry.

The current Chief Executive will continue to fill that position.

Service Personnel

(Sexually Transmitted Diseases)

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of service personnel were suffering from (a) HIV/AIDS and (b) sexually transmitted diseases in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement. [153170]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 12 March 2001]: The proportion of Service personnel known by the Ministry of Defence to be suffering from HIV/AIDS in each of the past five years is shown in Table 1. Table 2 shows the proportion of Service personnel referred to military Genito-Urinary clinics in each of the last five years. It is not possible to identify separately referrals relating to sexually transmitted diseases but they represent the majority of the referrals. No information is held on members of the armed forces who may have received advice or treatment outside the Defence Medical Services.

Table 1

YearHIV/AIDS (percentage)
19960.003
19970.005
19980.004
19990.005
20000.006

Table 2

YearSexually transmitted diseases (percentage)
1995-962.1
1996-972.9
1997-982.7
1998-993.2
1999-20003.3

Notes:

1. For HIV/AIDS, the figures are recorded for each calendar year and the percentages are calculated against armed forces strength in April of that year.

2. For Genito-Urinary clinic referrals, financial year periods are used, as most (but not all) data were readily available only on that basis. The percentages are calculated against the strength at the end of each financial year.

3. Figures for Genito-Urinary referrals in Northern Ireland are available only for the first and last years of the sequence. Intermediate years have been estimated by extrapolation from these.


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