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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with the insurance industry about compulsory third party cover for jet skis operated in coastal waters. 
It is the responsibility of UK local authorities and harbour authorities to regulate personal watercraft using local byelaw powers. However, the Department has produced a nationally distributed 'Voluntary Code of Practice for Leisure Users' which provides safety guidelines and encourages third party insurance.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with her European counterparts about the regulation of jet skis operated in coastal waters. 
My Department has not consulted European colleagues about the regulation of jet skis operated in coastal waters as regulation through local byelaw powers is considered to be adequate. The Inter Departmental Review of byelaws in 1998 recommended that local authorities should be given more general powers to regulate activities affecting the wider environment and coastal zones, including the use of recreational craft.
Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much social housing by local authority defined as rural was available to rent in (a) 1996, (b) 1997, (c) 1998, (d) 1999, (e) 2000 and (f) 2001; and what proportion of such housing was filled during these years. 
Estimates of residential housing stock and vacancy levels are reported by local authorities annually on Housing Investment Programme returns. Total social housing stock and derived levels of occupation as at 1 April in each year, distinguishing between stock owned by local authorities and by Registered Social Landlords, in authorities categorised as either "mixed rural" or "deep rural", are as follows:
|As at 1 April||Number||of which occupied: (percentage)|
|Local authority owned|
|Registered Social Landlord owned|
26 Nov 2001 : Column: 695W
A certain level of vacancy is a usual feature of housing management, reflecting turnover and movement within the stock, including those vacant for very short periods between tenants and those requiring minor repairs before re-letting.
The Department has had a Solar Photovoltaics Research and Development Programme for a number of years, in collaboration with industry, and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has also had a programme of basic and applied research with the Universities. Research and development projects on PV technology continue to be supported under the Department's Sustainable Energy Programme, via a six monthly call process, and PV secured the largest share of any renewable technology under the EPSRC's Renewable and New Energy Technologies Programme.
We are also funding around thirty demonstration projects on clusters of homes under the DTI's Domestic PV Systems Field Trial, with a budget of £5.4 million, and have just launched the Large Scale Building- Integrated Field Trial for Public Buildings with a budget of £3 million. This should enable us to support around 15 projects on schools, universities, hospitals, visitor centres and central and local Government buildings.
Looking to the future, we are currently designing the first phase of the Major PV Demonstration Programme, which was announced in the Government's "Opportunity for All" White Paper in February this year. We have a £20 million budget for this over the next 23 years, and it is intended that capital grants will be available for all sizes and types of PV installations on both domestic and non-domestic buildings.
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The Department has been supporting fuel cells research and development for many years, through the DTI Sustainable Energy Programme and the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council. Since 1992 the DTI has supported 147 fuel cell projects with a total DTI spend of £11.8 million. The current DTI programme is spending about £2 million per annum, with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) spending about the same on basic research related to fuel cells.
The Energy Review currently being conducted by the Performance and Innovation Unit is considering the role of new technologies including fuel cells, in conjunction with other energy matters, as part of its review of strategic issues surrounding energy policy. It is due to report to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister by the end of the year. Fuel cells may also be used to replace or supplement the internal combustion engine in vehicles. The Government will shortly be issuing a consultation draft of their "Powering Future Vehicles" strategy for promoting the development, introduction and take-up of hybrid, fuel cell and other low-carbon vehicle technologies.
Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assistance and guidance she has given to local councils for the disposal of refrigerators after 1 January 2002. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 8 November 2001]: From 1 January 2002, the EC Regulation on Ozone Depleting Substances will require 'controlled substances' (including CFCs) in coolants and in insulating foam to be removed before recycling or reclamation of domestic refrigerator units. All local authorities have been informed of the requirements of the Regulation and my Department is currently assessing what financial assistance local authorities will require, in keeping with the new burdens procedure. We expect to finalise shortly guidance on the storage of waste refrigeration equipment, prior to CFC extraction.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of people travelled by (a) private transport, (b) train, (c) bus and (d) other forms of transport to the countryside in the 12 months from November 2000. 
Alun Michael: Figures are not currently available on the mode of transport used to visit the countryside since November last year. However, I understand that the English Tourism Council's United Kingdom Tourism Survey reports annually, and that information is collected on the mode of transport used to visit the countryside. Figures for 2001 should be available early in 2002.
26 Nov 2001 : Column: 697W
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what assessment he has made of the costs to public funds of (a) criminal damage and (b) embezzlement of public funds and investigations thereof in the latest year for which figures are available. 
The most recent Home Office estimate of the economic and social cost of crime was published in a report in December 2000, "The economic and social cost of crime" (Home Office Research Study 217). This includes estimates of the costs to public funds of crime, as well as estimates of the costs to victims of crime. All figures mentioned here relate to costs in the 19992000 financial year.
However, a Home office commissioned study carried out by National Economic Research Associates (NERA) estimated that the cost of fraud committed against Government and the amount of public funds engaged in counter-fraud activity to be between £4 and £9 billion. These costs include the estimated value of fraud as well as expenditure on counter-fraud activity, but excluded Criminal Justice System (CJS) costs.
|Low estimate||High estimate|
|Civil Service employee fraud||2||2|
|Customs and Excise + VAT fraud||900||2,500|
|Total Public Sector Fraud||4,000||9,000|
1. Totals may not sum due to rounding of figures.
2. Figures exclude any costs to the criminal justice system.
The Economic Cost of Fraud, NERA, 2000
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