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Transport Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the outcome was of the Transport Council held in Brussels on 16 October; what the Government's stance was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [9362]

Mr. Byers: The Transport Council met in Luxembourg on 16 October. I represented the United Kingdom, together with my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport.

This meeting of the Council was mainly focused on aviation issues, following the special session of the Transport Council on 14 September, which I attended. In addition, the special European Council of 21 September had called on this Council to adopt measures in the field of aviation security. I am very pleased that the Council succeeded in doing this. The Council put in hand preparations for Community-wide measures to enhance aviation security.

The Commission presented a draft regulation establishing a framework of aviation security measures and inspection arrangements. The Presidency reported on the work of the ad hoc group set up by the special

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Transport Council, which will examine further the scope for additional measures in areas such as crew training; checking and monitoring of hold luggage; securing cockpits; sky marshals; use of video cameras, and quality control of security measures. The Council also discussed alignment of security measures with those adopted by the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), and the need for the issues to be further pursued at the global level by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The Council agreed conclusions, following a debate on the economic consequences for the aviation industry of the 11 September attacks, on the basis of a Communication from the Commission. The conclusions recognise that application of the Community's state aid rules is the Commission's exclusive competence, and noted the limited range of financial assistance the Commission would approve. This would include compensation for losses directly attributable to the closure of airspace in the four days following 11 September, insurance guarantees for war-related third party risk where the market has failed, and possible assistance with the costs of enhanced security measures. The conclusions called on the Commission to take a position on slot flexibility before the next winter season, and welcomed the Commission's intention to open a dialogue with the US on a code of conduct on unfair competition. On insurance guarantees the conclusions called for monthly reviews with a final cut-off date of 31 December this year.

I joined several Ministers in supporting the Commission's proposals. I also emphasised the importance of the EU airline industry restructuring itself, and circulated a paper calling for member states and the Commission to try to prevent ownership and control clauses in bilateral air service agreements being an obstacle to airline consolidation.

The Commission presented its proposals for the Single European Sky, aimed at improving co-ordination of air traffic management across the EU and reducing delays through better use of airspace. This is an initiative which the UK supports and we look forward to seeing progress on it in the coming months.

The Presidency reported on recent developments at the ICAO General Assembly in Montreal. The results on aircraft noise were generally welcomed. Council conclusions noted that Council would give priority to adopting a replacement to the current 'hushkits' Regulation in the near future.

A common position was reached on proposals to establish a European Aviation Safety Agency. There were progress reports on proposals for occurrence reporting in civil aviation and on cabin crew training, which were remitted back to COREPER for further work.

The Council noted the progress report on the ERIKA 1 and two packages of proposals on maritime safety and related measures. The outcome of the packages is now satisfactory from our point of view, and I am pleased that a number of the issues have been taken forward by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). We look forward, subject to clarification on some points, to a decision in December on establishment of a European Maritime Safety Agency.

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At a debate over lunch on the Galileo global navigation satellite system, the Minister for Transport set out the UK's concerns over the proposed Joint Undertaking management structure. When the Council resumed, the Presidency reported that COREPER would be continuing work on three main areas, with a view to a decision on proceeding with the project at the December Council. The areas of work are: arrangements for private sector involvement, in particular the need to avoid conflicts of interest; the best way of involving member states, with emphasis on the roles of a supervisory board and management committee; and involvement of the European Space Agency.

The Commission confirmed that a full revision of the transport Trans European Networks (TENs) guidelines would be undertaken in 2004. An interim revision will boost Community support to 20 per cent. for major rail infrastructure projects and cross-border bottlenecks on frontiers of candidate countries.

The Commission gave a brief presentation on its recent White Paper on the common transport policy. The Presidency said that it would aim for a Council Resolution on the White Paper in December.

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport was one of several Ministers who raised continuing concerns about the technical specification for digital tachographs. The Commission stated that adoption in December remained its goal.

There was a progress report on the proposal to extend the requirement to fit vehicle speed limiters to a wider range of vehicles. With a view to political agreement in December, COREPER will be continuing work on the proposal, seeking solutions on the scope of the proposal and the issue of retrofitting, on both of which the UK and some other member states have expressed concerns.

There was also a progress report on the proposal on training of professional drivers. Work on this will continue, with a view to the Council reaching agreement on it in December.

No votes were taken at this Council.

Councillor Expenses

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the timing of the publication of the DTLR document on councillor expenses on 12 September. [9140]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 19 October 2001]: As with any announcement, a range of publication dates were considered. The actual publication date for these documents, 12 September, was as planned from the week before.

Mr. Collins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) if he discussed the timing of announcements on councillors' expenses with the Minister for local government and the regions on (a) 11 and (b) 12 September; [9633]

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Mr. Byers: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I have given today to the hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) (PQ 9140).

Jo Moore

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will place in the Library copies of e-mail correspondence between Jo Moore and officials in his Department relating to news which they wanted to bury subsequent to the attacks on the World Trade Centre; and if he will make a statement. [9191]

Mr. Byers: The Department acted according to the planned timetable of announcements.

Channel Tunnel Rail Link

Mr. Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what advice he has received regarding the financial viability of the next phase of the channel tunnel rail link between Ebbsfleet and King's Cross. [8693]

Mr. Jamieson: London and Continental Railways Ltd. is responsible for financing and construction of section 2 of the CTRL. As announced on 2 July of this year, construction has started and is expected to be completed in 2007. London and Continental Railways has a viable financing structure plan for section 2 which includes raising £1.1 billion of Government Guaranteed Bonds to help finance construction.

Transport White Paper

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the Government's response to the recent EU Transport White Paper. [7467]

Mr. Jamieson: The European Commission published its White Paper "European Transport Policy for 2010: Time to Decide" on 12 September 2001. The White Paper itself has no legislative or executive force at this stage but it indicates areas where the Commission intends to initiate action over the next few years.


Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions why Westminster city council has been selected for a survey on public attitudes to directly elected mayors. [8521]

Dr. Whitehead: The research was conducted in a number of locations which varied in size, which had different authority types, and which are likely to be opting for different forms of new constitutions. This was to provide a broad range of different situations to inform the survey's conclusions. The Department chose some authorities that have held or will be holding a referendum on directly elected mayors, others that intend to adopt a leader and cabinet form of executive and others who had yet to decide their preference. In addition, the Department wanted a wide geographical spread of locations to be

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surveyed. Based on those criteria, Westminster was a suitable candidate to be surveyed. Members of the public have also been surveyed in Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Harrow, Middlesbrough, Preston, Plymouth, Oxford and Derby. The Department will publish the results of the research in due course.

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