Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs First Special Report

APPENDIX (continued)


We recommend that the Government, in conjunction with the Chamber of Shipping and others, should monitor closely the success or otherwise of its proposed voluntary training levies [for the shipping industry] and, if they prove unsuccessful, should consider what measures should be put in place to eliminate 'free riding'. This is a subject to which we return when we consider the proposed tonnage tax (paragraph 59).

The minimum training obligation attached to the tonnage tax, rather than the voluntary training levy originally proposed by the industry, is now the main policy instrument for ensuring that companies train sufficient UK seafarers to meet their requirements. Accordingly, the industry's efforts have been focussed on the establishment of the Maritime Training Trust which is the body set up to hold and allocate monies contributed by companies under the minimum training obligation for the purpose of promoting the training of seafarers. We will monitor the effectiveness of this and determine with the industry and maritime unions whether further training initiatives are necessary.

We recommend that, hand in hand with efforts to increase the funding for, and the availability of, training berths, the Government should take the lead in ensuring that sufficient cadets come forward to fill those berths. We recommend that the Government looks to the example set by the Netherlands, and the successful campaign mounted there to attract recruits to the industry (paragraph 60).

The Merchant Navy Training Board as the industry's National Training Organisation is the appropriate body for such a promotional role. It has initiatives already underway designed to attract recruits to the industry. In addition, the Government has launched an annual Merchant Navy Day on 3 September with the aim of encouraging young people to consider a career at sea.

We recommend that the Government should further press the European Union to consider including intra-community cargo vessels within the terms of the ferry manning initiative (paragraph 65).

The Government adheres to the view it expressed previously in response to the Select Committee, namely, that it shares the view of the Commission that cargo services constitute a significantly different market from passenger services and that to press for their inclusion in the measure would put its adoption at risk. The Government further notes that the Commission has now accepted an amendment of the European Parliament which expressly excludes carrying cargo only from the scope of the measure.

We welcome the Government's commitment to help the industry to establish a register of British ratings. We recommend that the Government should ensure that accurate data about the state of the British shipping industry continues to be gathered in future (paragraph 66).

The Chamber of Shipping has undertaken to maintain and update its statistical database on the number of ratings employed by member companies on an annual basis. In addition, a further study is to be undertaken by the DETR and the Chamber of Shipping to update the 1992 survey of UK ratings employed by UK companies who are not member of the Chamber of Shipping.

We recommend that, as a matter of urgency, the Government should consider how best to end the anomaly concerning the non-application of Foreign Earnings Deduction to British seafarers engaged in the short-sea and coastal trades. Its objective in doing so should be to encourage the employment of British seafarers in those vessels which operate close to our coasts (paragraph 86).

The position remains as stated in the Government's response of July 1999, namely that 100% relief from tax is available to and claimed by those employed by both short-sea and deep-sea shipping. By definition, Foreign Earnings deduction is not available to those seafarers without any foreign earnings.

We recommend that the Government should set itself ambitious targets and deadlines for enhancing the situation of the UK shipping industry. There must be improvements in the number, weight and type of vessels on the UK register, and the number, age distribution, and quality of British seafarers (paragraph 89).

Our general objective for UK seafarers skills is to ensure that the recruitment and training of UK seafarers is increased to a level sufficient to meet the future needs of both the shipping industry and of the wider maritime-related sectors which depend on employees with seafaring skills and experience. Our target is to increase annual recruitment by 100 extra UK officer trainees each year, thereby doubling the annual intake within 5 years. This objective should be secured through the mechanism of the tonnage tax minimum training obligation. The current UK seafarer population is heavily skewed towards the 45-60 year old age group. This age distribution will improve forthwith as a result of trainee recruitment under the minimum training obligation. However, while overall numbers of UK seafarers will increase in the long term, they are likely to continue to decline in the short to medium term as a result of net losses arising from the retirement of older seafarers.

The Government has not set formal targets for the UK register because the primary policy focus is to regenerate the maritime skills base. However, with the establishment of a positive environment for shipping we would expect the size of the UK register to double within 3 years. After years of decline there is already positive evidence of growth. From December 1998, when we published British Shipping - Charting a new course, to March 2000 the number of trading vessels above 100 gross tonnes increased from 378 totalling 2,699,000 dwt (deadweight tonnes) to 392 vessels totalling 3,170,000 dwt. In the same period the number of container ships increased from 25 vessels totalling 1,088,000 dwt to 42 vessels totalling 1,636,000 dwt and the number of cruise ships from 9 vessels totalling 54,000 dwt to 11 vessels totalling 71,000 dwt.


We are extremely concerned about the shortage of aircraft maintenance engineers, both in the commercial and the General Aviation sectors. We recommend that in its consideration of the matter the Government's inter-departmental working group should consider the situation in both sectors, and should urgently take steps to address the problem (paragraph 60).

The inter-departmental working group has completed its report. Its recommendations have been agreed by Ministers and are now being taken forward. Chris Mullin wrote to the Chair of the Transport Sub-Committee on 14 July 2000 enclosing a copy of the full report. A summary of its conclusions and recommendations has been distributed widely to UK airlines, maintenance organisations and others.

We recommend that any further recommendations that arise from investigations into the accidents involving Boeing 737s are rapidly implemented by British airlines. We further recommend that the Safety Regulation Group should closely monitor the situation, to ensure that all necessary steps to deal with the problem of the aircraft's rudder are taken (paragraph 75).

The response set out in Cm 4539 sets out the policy on recommendations arising from accident investigations. Safety Regulation Group of the CAA continues to monitor the situation on Boeing 737s closely. Since November 1999, the United States Federal Aviation Administration has issued one Airworthiness Directive related to the rudders of Boeing 737s, which the CAA has mandated for UK-registered aircraft.

We are extremely concerned about the delay in implementing the Transport Committee's recommendation to increase the aisle through the forward bulkhead of the Boeing 737 in particular, following the accident at Manchester airport. We recommend the Safety Regulation Group take steps to expedite the matter (paragraph 82).

The Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) have agreed common standards for the design and construction of large passenger aircraft registered in JAA Member States. A major design change of the kind recommended for Boeing 737s is best achieved through an amendment to the relevant Joint Aviation Requirement. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has always played a leading role in developing harmonised European standards in the JAA and the Government is committed to this process of promoting high, uniform safety standards. It would undermine Government efforts to achieve high standards if the UK were to take a unilateral, selective approach to applying JAA standards.

The JAA have agreed to consider a proposal put forward by the CAA to increase the minimum gap width in bulkheads that lead to floor level exits. This proposal is currently working its way through the JAA rulemaking process. A specialist group of the JAA is now in the final stages of reviewing comments on the proposed rule change and its economic impact following a first round of consultations which included strong CAA representation. This review is, however, taking longer than expected to complete because of difficulties experienced in technical and economic areas. The CAA will take a major role in seeing this proposal through. It is difficult to estimate a date when the change in this rule will become operative. The final proposal will be subject to arbitration by the Regulatory Advisory Panel of the JAA. If they agree to the proposal - as being suitable for further rulemaking advancement and without having to refer back to the specialist JAA group - the operative date could be around early to mid 2001.

We recommend that before further steps are taken to address the problem of disruptive passenger behaviour or air rage, the Safety Regulation Group, together with the British airlines, should urgently commission research to investigate its cause (paragraph 90).

The new unified reporting scheme for incidents of disruptive behaviour on board all UK aircraft rook effect on 1 April 1999. In February 2000 the Department sent to the Chair of the Transport Sub-Committee a note summarising the returns for the seven-month period April-October 1999. This showed that whilst disruptive behaviour had not during that period presented a significant risk to aviation safety, there was a certain amount of anti-social behaviour on board aircraft, occasionally escalating into serious incidents. 39 incidents during the period were judged by the Civil Aviation Authority to be serious. In around half of all incidents alcohol was identified or suspected as being a contributory cause, whilst smoking when prohibited featured in around one third of incidents. Figures now available for the first full year of the reporting scheme indicate no significant change in either the frequency or type of incidents compared to the first seven months.

In the light of this information the Department's Working Group, which includes representatives of the airlines, the police and the Civil Aviation Authority, has taken the view that there is no case at present for initiating further research into the causes of disruptive behaviour, and is focusing its attention on considering the merits of further legislation and/or other preventative measures. The reporting scheme is continuing in operation, and the Department and the Group will keep the situation under review.


We recommend that data on local bus and home to school contract prices be kept centrally so that, in future, trends can be analysed accurately (recommendation (c)).

Recent discussions with the Association of Transport Co-ordinating Officers (ATCO) have focussed on their annual survey of trends in tender prices, the next one of which is this autumn and the results of which are made available to the Department. We will review data requirements in the light of those discussions and the outcome of this year's survey.

Tendering authorities must redouble their efforts to stimulate competition for tenders by attracting new entrants and bids from small operators and those outside their areas. The DETR should co-ordinate the dissemination of best practice in tendering amongst authorities and it should issue updated guidance (recommendation (d).

Our response to the Committee indicated that we had already circulated an updated Guide to Good Practice. Recent discussions with ATCO suggest that there is no need for further steps in the short term, though we will continue to work with ATCO on this matter.

The Office of Fair Trading must take its responsibilities more seriously and take a much more active role in investigating complaints in the future. We expect it to make full use of the improved powers that it will have under the Competition Act 1998 and to pursue vigorously any operators who act in an anti-competitive manner (recommendation (h).

This recommendation was addressed to the Office of Fair Trading and not the DETR.


We recommend that a rigorous system of hazard perception testing be introduced, as part of a computerised theory test, without delay (paragraph 19).

Work is underway to ensure that hazard perception testing can be incorporated within the theory part of the driving test in 2002. A Project Group has been established and project leader appointed. Activities such as scene writing has begun and filming should start shortly to provide the video clips needed for inclusion in the computer based theory test.

Attempting to alter the attitudes of young people towards driving through education whilst they are still at school will not rapidly lead to tangible results. Nevertheless, given the contribution that irresponsibility and recklessness make to the low safety standards of young and newly-qualified drivers, we believe that a general change in attitudes towards driving is essential. We therefore recommend that the National Curriculum address road safety. The Curriculum should include compulsory lessons which cover the physics of driving, the statistics about the number of accidents involving young people, the penalties for committing road traffic offences, and the consequences of having an accident (paragraph 36).

The subgroup of the PSHE Advisory Group, which is to look at the teaching of safety within Personal, Social and Health Education, has been set up and has been asked to look at the issues raised by the Committee, and at how materials might be developed to allow schools to teach road safety as part of the PSHE framework. The subgroup is to report to the main PSHE Advisory Group in the autumn and guidance will be available for schools early in 2001.

We recommend that the Government consult with advertisers, as well as motor manufacturers, to ensure that irresponsible advertising of cars is ended, and that advertisers seek to promote safe driving. It should monitor car advertisements to ensure that positive progress towards these ends is made (paragraph 39).

The depiction of cars in advertising and in TV programmes has been discussed with the Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders and the Independent Television Commission to encourage the promotion of responsible road use messages.

We believe that for any system of tuition and testing of drivers to be effective the penalty for not participating in the system should be severe. We therefore recommend that the Government should re-examine the penalty for driving without a licence, and particularly the actual level of penalties imposed by the Courts (paragraph 44).

A review of all road traffic penalties is underway. The Government plans to issue a consultation document on the subject as soon as possible.

We can see no way in which any driving licence regime, even the existing regime, can be effectively enforced unless carrying a licence whilst driving is made mandatory, and the police are given powers to require that it be shown to them. We therefore recommend that the Government re-examine the matter (paragraph 54).

The issue of mandatory carriage of driving licences remains under review. However, when the Court Services and Criminal Justices Bill becomes law later this year, DVLA will be empowered to copy the driver database to the Police National Computer. The information will then be accessible to the police for road traffic enforcement purposes, 24 hours a day 7 days a week.


The Committee has asked for an update on relevant recommendations made in this report, particularly in the light of developments in water legislation in Europe and the UK and of the 1999 Periodic Review.

Over the last two years, significant progress has been made in establishing the framework for a long-term sustainable improvement in the quality of the water environment. The new Water Framework Directive should provide a well-targeted, strategic instrument to protect and improve water quality with a welcome focus on environmental outcomes as opposed to pre-determined levels of treatment for sewage and other effluent. The Directive puts the focus on the long-term survival of aquatic ecosystems, and will deliver considerable environmental improvement and better management of water resources. In parallel, the 1999 Periodic Review of water company price limits between 2000 and 2005 in England and Wales will allow for investment of over £5 billion by the water companies in protecting the environment. An update of the recommendations in the Environment Sub-Committee's memorandum of inquiry into sewage treatment and disposal, in the light of these developments, is below. Paragraph numbers relate to the Government's response (Cm 4023).

Standards of sewage treatment (paragraphs 13-29)

The Government's position remains that the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, the Bathing Water Directive and the Shellfish Waters Directive should set the basic framework for improving sewage treatment standards in the UK. The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive sets secondary sewage treatment as the norm, with tertiary treatment provided where necessary. In the period 2000-2005, £4.2 billion will be invested to improve continuous and stormwater discharges. This investment will include tertiary disinfective and/or nutrient-removal treatment where justified, focussed on protecting the following main areas:

  • Shellfish Waters. The Government has taken very significant steps to protect shellfish harvesting areas. In 1999 it increased the number of designated shellfish waters in England from 17 (80 km²) to 93 (3,094 km²) and in Wales from 1 (54 km²) to 26 (441 km²).

  • Bathing Waters. In England the number of bathing waters for the 2000 bathing season stands at 405, which includes 9 inland bathing waters. In Wales the number of bathing waters for the 2000 bathing season stands at 75.

  • Waters suffering from eutrophication or excessive nitrate levels. In 1998, the Government designated 47 new Sensitive Areas (Eutrophic) under the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, as requiring protection to combat eutrophication. The Environment Agency is now engaged in its survey of waters for the next review of eutrophic sensitive areas to be concluded in 2001. In addition, the Government is currently considering recommendations from the Environment Agency for further designations of Sensitive Areas (Nitrate), and expects to come forward with additional designations in due course. The Periodic Review also made provision for investment of £40m in improving effluent discharges affecting sites designated under the Habitats and Birds Directives, and other Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

Disposal of sewage sludge to land (paragraphs 30-37)

The use of untreated sewage sludge on land used for growing food crops was phased out on a precautionary basis after end December 1999 as set out in "The Safe Sludge Matrix" agreed in December 1998 between Water UK, representing the UK Water and Sewage Operators, and the British Retail Consortium (BRC), representing major retailers. The Government plans to revise the existing Regulations and Code of Practice in England during 2001 to introduce the "Matrix" provisions on a statutory basis. The Regulations will also require sludge producers to treat all sewage sludge recycled on agricultural land to grow food crops to one of two stringent treatment standards to reduce the potential for pathogens to be transferred into the food chain. Provision for capital expenditure of £385m has been included in the Periodic Review for 2000-2005 to meet these requirements.

Incineration of sewage sludge (paragraph 38)

Any new sewage sludge incinerators will be regulated under the new Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control regime, as will existing plant from 2005. The Waste Incineration Directive - which lays down emission limits, operating conditions and monitoring requirements - is likely to be adopted at the end of 2000. It will apply to new plant 2 years after adoption and to existing plant 5 years from adoption.

Sewer renewal (paragraphs 39-41)

The recent Periodic Review provides for £1 billion to be spent over the years 2000-2005 to maintain the sewer networks and reduce sewer flooding. This provides for a continuation of current levels of capital maintenance activity at less cost to the customer by taking into account improvements in efficiency and the benefits of more accurately focused work by the companies and improved techniques. OfWAT will continue to monitor the performance of companies (through yearly returns which provide details of expenditure in the previous year and activity levels) and will take action where this falls below an acceptable level.

Combined Sewer Overflows (paragraphs 44-45)

The recent Periodic Review will allow 3,800 unsatisfactory intermittent discharges (over 80% of the total identified) to be improved over the years 2000-2005. The Environment Agency in consultation with sewage dischargers has agreed which overflows should be prioritised. The Government has made it clear that unsatisfactory intermittent discharges affecting bathing waters and shellfish waters are to be given the highest priority in the accelerated programme.

Recreational waters (paragraph 46)

The Government previously reported that it had designated 9 inland bathing waters under the Bathing Water Directive in England - the first such designations since adoption of the Directive. Proposals for designating additional bathing waters are reviewed annually. The Government has been considering views on the need for protection of recreational users of waters that do not fall within the scope of the existing Bathing Water Directive. This will be taken into account in developing UK thinking on the forthcoming revision of the Directive, which may make it more suitable for application to recreational waters.

High Natural Dispersion Areas (HNDAs) (paragraph 47)

The Government is pleased to report that in its guidance to the regulator set out in "Raising the Quality - guidance to the Director General of Water Services on the environmental and quality objectives to be achieved by the water industry in England and Wales 2000-2005", published on 23 September 1998, it announced the revocation of less sensitive areas (High Natural Dispersion Areas) in England and Wales. As a result all former candidate discharges for primary treatment will now get secondary treatment.

Rat infestation (paragraph 50)

As previously proposed, the Government has now set up a Working Group comprising the Local Government Association, Water UK, Department of Health and MAFF. From meetings that have taken place a number of useful initiatives have been developed including the circulation of a joint protocol letter by Water UK and the LGA dealing with rodent control in the public sewerage system. The research study on baiting methods and current practices of rodent control has been carried out on behalf of Water UK and is expected to be published shortly.

Predicting the quality of bathing waters (paragraph 54)

The Government's view remains that the temporal and spatial variability of water quality, together with the influence of external factors such as the weather, means that for many bathing waters there are real difficulties in forecasting water quality in a mechanistic sense, with sufficient reliability to be of use to prospective bathers. However, it may be possible to characterise beaches based on their local environment and track record and to associate this with a broad level of risk of human infection and the influence of sources of contamination in some circumstances. In this context the Government notes with interest the progress with development of systems that report the operation of intermittent discharges and emergency overflows.

Public Health Laboratory Service Resourcing (paragraphs 55-56)

In the light of a review of its financial position, the PHLS will receive substantial increases to its funding from 2001/02. This is without prejudice to the outcome of the Communicable Disease Strategy and any recommendations arising from that strategy that might affect the PHLS.

Endocrine Disrupters (paragraphs 59-61)

Since July 1998 research funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the Environment Agency and the Department has shown that effects related to endocrine disruption are occurring in wild roach and gudgeon in a number of UK rivers. Further work is currently looking at the population level impacts of the effects seen in individual fish. In addition the Department and the Agency are collaborating on research studies looking at the fate and behaviour of steroids in the environment. A list of Government-funded research related to endocrine disrupters was included in an October 1999 report by the Interdepartmental Group on Endocrine Disrupters.[11]

The Environment Agency published its strategy "Endocrine disrupters in the environment" in June 2000 which reviews the current state of knowledge and sets out an integrated and risk-based approach to addressing the issue. Earlier Government-funded research identified natural and synthetic oestrogens as playing an important role in causing endocrine disruption in fish. The Agency intends to focus on these substances, and in test catchments (high risk areas) it will look at the ecological impact of endocrine disruption; options for reducing inputs including research into waste water treatment options; and cost-benefit assessments. Development of environmental quality standards for (total) steroids will also be considered.

Endocrine disrupters are also identified as a pollutant that must be controlled under the Water Framework Directive. Specific environmental quality standards may be set for endocrine disrupters following proposals from the European Commission.


Most recommendations in this Report were rejected because of the Government's view that there has been a decrease in demand for allotments, and that there will be no increase as suggested by the Committee. Is this still the Government's view?

It is still the Government's view that reductions in the number of allotments have been due in large part to a decrease in demand for allotments, that there are a large number of vacant allotments, and that there is no evidence that an increase should be expected.

Whether the option of including provisions relating to allotments has been considered in the context of recent local authority legislation; if not why not; and whether the Government sees any further possibility of legislation relating to allotments.

The Government considers that allotments already enjoy adequate legal protection, and that an overhaul of allotment legislation is not a priority. Instead, the Government aims to provide greater safeguards against the disposal and development of allotments, through revised planning policy guidance.

The number of allotments sites which the Secretary of State has given consent to dispose of since March 1998; how many he has refused consent; and precisely how local authorities can demonstrate that they have taken steps to promote allotments.

The Secretary of State has given 150 consents for the disposal of statutory allotment land since 25 March 1998 and has refused consent in 2 cases. Consent decisions are made against criteria aimed at ensuring that allotments which are needed are not disposed - the allotment authority would need to demonstrate that the allotment is not necessary, is surplus to requirement, or is impractical to retain; that adequate alternative provision will be made for any displaced plot holders; and the number of people on the allotment waiting lists has been taken into account. Allotments which have been granted disposal consents, therefore, would have satisfied criteria, and mainly be in areas where there is a lack of demand for them (the English Allotments Survey found that there were over 33,000 vacant statutory allotment plots in England).

When faced with applications for disposal of allotment land, local authorities may show that they have taken steps to promote allotments by demonstrating that they have:

  • actively publicised the availability of allotment sites, by advertising such vacancies via:

      - parish magazines, newsletters, and local 'flyers';
      - notices on site, in libraries, community centres, council web-sites, and other local information points;
      - local radio and television;
      - local allotment groups and societies; and
  • consulted the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners over applications to dispose of statutory allotment land.

What provisions relating to allotments have been included in revised Planning Policy Guidance notes.

The Government is currently revising its Planning Policy Guidance note 17: Sports and Recreation. The guidance will provide clearer advice to local planning authorities on assessing local needs for informal recreation space, such as allotments and community gardens, and for developing plan policies to protect such spaces from development and encouraging new provision where there are deficiencies.

The drawing up and implementation of Best Practice guidance for allotments, and, in particular, whether the DETR will be funding the study which we understand the Local Government Association is proposing to undertake on this subject.

DETR has agreed to contribute towards the cost of preparing a good practice guide for allotments to be prepared by the Local Government Association.


Section 19 of the Local Government Act 1999 provides for the Secretary of State to specify by order, in relation to best value authorities, matters which will cease to be 'non-commercial' for the purposes of Part II of the Local Government Act.

Part II of the Local Government Act 1988 prevents authorities from discriminating against particular contractors by introducing political or irrelevant considerations into the contractual process. It achieves this by defining certain matters as 'non commercial' and prohibiting authorities from having regard to these matters in the contractual process.

It is apparent that the broad range of specified ' non commercial' matters, set out at section 17(5) of the 1988 Act, includes workforce matters which may affect a contractor's ability to deliver a contract. The relevant matters, as set out in the 1988 Act, are:

  • The terms and conditions of employment by contractors of their workforces or the composition of, the arrangements for the promotion, transfer or training of or other opportunities afforded to, their workforces ( section 17(5) (a); and

  • The conduct of contractors or workers in industrial disputes between them (section 17(5) (d)

Authorities will rightly want to be able to consider these matters where they affect directly the cost and quality of services to the extent permitted by EU Procurement Rules.

The Government therefore is working on proposals to amend Part II of the Local Government Act 1988 to allow for proper consideration of workforce matters in contracting where relevant to the achievement of Best Value and also in circumstances where the requirements of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 are to be applied. They will not however relax the restriction on those matters that can be said to be truly 'non-commercial'.

The proposals have been developed with the encouragement and collaboration of the Local Government Social Partners (a partnership between local government, trade unions and business) who have been keen to see a genuine culture change under Best Value, delivering the combined benefits of service improvements, employee protection and fair competition.

A full consultation exercise, scoping views through the publication of draft guidance Best Value and Procurement: Handling of Workforce Matters in Contracting received 120 detailed responses and closed on 26 May 2000. A wide range of interest groups including: local authorities, voluntary organisations, trade unions and the private sector responded to the consultation exercise and voiced widespread support for amending Part II of the Local Government Act 1988.

In light of responses to the consultation exercise and internal discussions Government is currently amending the draft guidance with a view to laying the necessary Order when Parliament returns from summer recess in late October 2000.


The Government expect to publish revised draft Hedgerows Regulations for statutory consultation later this year.

We will consider whether legislative protection shoud be extended to other field boundaries after we have evaluated up to date information on their state from Countryside Survey 2000. These survey results will be available towards the end of the year and we shall return to this matter then.

The latest position concerning the maximum acceptable width for field margins, when included in whole field area claims for area aid under the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS), is set out in a Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food news release 265/00 dated 31 July 2000. The Ministry believes that it is near to agreement with the EU Commission on an approach that would allow hedges and other types of field margin to be treated in broadly the same way as in previous years. Although some of the details have yet to be finalised, MAFF is confident that a change in the rules which would enable this approach to be adopted will be agreed in the early autumn.

Detailed guidance will be issued to farmers once the new rules are in place. In the meantime, the Ministry's preliminary advice to farmers who are preparing their land for next year's harvest is that they should do so on the basis that they are likely to be able to include hedges and other field margins in next year's claims for area-linked payments in the same way as they have done in previous years.


Whether the Government still rejects the recommendation that Regional Planning Guidance should take precedence over RDA strategies (paragraph 18).

The Government maintains its rejection. Regional Planning Guidance and Regional Strategies are complementary documents and it is inappropriate to talk in terms of one taking precedence over the other.

Whether the Government envisages the RDAs taking over the role of the Government Offices on the Programme Monitoring Committees in relation to distributing European Structural Funds.

The Government Offices are continuing to manage the Structural Funds Programme with the RDAs and the wider partnership developing the strategy of the programme. Ministers will review the proposed future role of the RDAs in Structural Funds programmes in the Autumn.

It is still not clear on what basis the Government decides to allocate budgets between RDAs. It would be helpful to know whether the Government intends to make public the criteria on which these decisions are made (paragraph 50).

Clarity in the allocation method for resources between the nine Regional Development Agencies has been frustrated by having a large number of inherited programmes each with an individual allocation method. The Spending Review 2000 decisions on bringing the programmes into a single budget, additional resources and a strengthened economic regeneration role for the RDAs, will facilitate a fresh, comprehensive allocation method that should be much clearer. It will be developed in consultation with the RDAs and apply to 2002-03 onwards. Until then the allocation method will necessarily be based on the individual programmes.

11   Government Interdepartmental Group on Endocrine Disrupters Report of activities between November 1995 and May 1999 (DETR, October 1999) Back

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