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Environmental Reports

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Prime Minister how many of the FTSE 350 companies with which he has held meetings in the last 12 months have produced environmental reports; in how many of the meetings he

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has held with such companies he raised the importance of such reports; and what further action he will take to encourage such reporting. [29326]

The Prime Minister: I have meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals. As with previous Administrations it is not my practice to provide details of all such meetings.

Missile Defence

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister when he expects to know the nature of the request from the US Administration concerning British involvement in the Nuclear Missile Defence programme. [26559]

The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Simpson) on 19 November 2001, Official Report, column 103W.

CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT

Listed Buildings

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to reform the listing process for buildings of historic value, with particular reference to where they have a landmark value because of their location and appearance. [26780]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 14 January 2002]: Buildings will continue to be considered for listing against strict criteria of special architectural or historic interest. The Government's guidance to local authorities in Planning Policy Guidance Note 15—Planning and the Historic Environment stresses a general presumption in favour of retaining unlisted buildings in conservation areas which make a positive contribution to the character or appearance of a conservation area. The Government's recent policy statement, "The Historic Environment: A Force for Our Future" (December 2001) stresses the importance of planning authorities taking account of the value a community places on a particular aspect of its immediate environment.

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will take steps to ensure that listed buildings cannot be de-listed following an appeal from the owner without public notification and an opportunity for objections to be made. [27898]

Dr. Howells: Decisions on listing and de-listing are based on expert advice received about a building's architectural and historic interest. There is no formal process for appeals against decisions on listing and de-listing, but we will consider fresh evidence at any time. Given this, we see no benefit in the introduction of a formal appeals procedure.

Regulatory Impact Assessments

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many regulatory impact assessments have been produced by her Department since August 2001; and if she will list those produced (a) following initial consultation with affected parties about the most appropriate methodology for assessing costs and other impacts and (b) which set out full

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commercial impacts, including profitability, employment, consumer prices and competitiveness, as recommended in Good Policy Making. [28398]

Dr. Howells: Full regulatory impact assessments are placed in the House Libraries. Since August 2001 the Department has produced regulatory impact assessments in respect of the draft Regulatory Reform (Golden Jubilee Licensing) Order 2002 and the National Heritage Bill, the former coming under (a) and the latter under neither (a) nor (b). I also refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Cabinet Office on 17 January 2002, Official Report, column 483.

Tramways (Preservation)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate she has made of the number of locations and length of pre-1945 tramways which survive under tarmac or are otherwise intact; and what her policy is on their preservation. [28577]

Dr. Howells: A search of the schedule of ancient monuments has revealed that there are 11 entries on tramways. The majority of these form parts of industrial sites.

Under the Monuments Protection Programme, this Department and English Heritage are undertaking a systematic review of England's archaeological resource, with a view to providing statutory protection, principally through scheduling and listing, to those sites identified as being of national interest. Transport systems, including tramways, are being assessed in this context.

Special Advisers

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the average time is that the Head of her Department has recommended since May 1997 between a special adviser leaving her Department and taking up outside employment; and if she will make a statement. [28912]

Dr. Howells: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 21 January 2002, Official Report, column 594W.

Free Television Licences

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of the impact on elderly residents of warden-accommodation of the rule that free television licences are available only if all the residents of such accommodation qualify for the concession. [28878]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 21 January 2002]: Under the Accommodation for Residential Care (ARC) concessionary scheme, television licences are available at a fee of £5 for each unit of qualifying accommodation. The requirement that sheltered housing must be provided for disabled people, mentally disordered people or retired people aged 60 or over is one of a number of qualifying criteria for entitlement to the concession. The ARC scheme as a whole was examined by the independent review panel on the future funding of the BBC in 1999,

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but the panel recommended that the existing scheme should be retained, since it was unable to identify a superior alternative funded from the licence fee.

As announced last year, the Government propose to introduce measures to preserve the rights of ARC beneficiaries who remain in accommodation provided or managed by a local authority, a housing association or a development corporation, when the social mix or the level of warden cover change. Consultations between officials and the BBC about the necessary amendments to the television licence fee regulations are currently under way. We intend to bring forward these amendments as soon as we can but it is important that in doing so we do not create any new anomalies or unnecessary administrative burdens.

Mr. Wood: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to extend the free television licence scheme to all pensioners. [29652]

Dr. Howells: The Government have no plans to extend free television licences to pensioners below the age of 75.

Seaside Resorts

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of the impact of recommendations 60 to 64 of the Budd report on Her Majesty's Government's policy of regenerating seaside resorts. [28850]

Mr. Caborn [holding answer 21 January 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Lawrie Quinn) on 19 December 2001, Official Report, column 317W.

Broadcasting Bill

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when the Broadcasting Bill will be published. [29490]

Dr. Howells: We have no plans to bring forward a new Broadcasting Bill. However, we are planning to publish in the spring of this year a draft Communications Bill, which will implement the policies set out in the White Paper on Communications that was published in December 2000. The Communications Bill will set up a new converged regulatory structure for telecommunications, spectrum management and broadcasting.

Stolen Equipment

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what equipment has been stolen from her Department since 1 May 1997; and what the approximate value of each item was. [26834]

Dr. Howells: Equipment stolen from the Department since May 1997 has been confined to information technology equipment, namely one laptop computer (value £2,000), three personal computer base units (value £1,500) and one personal computer monitor (value £300). All losses are reported by the Department as both a security breach, immediately after the event is detected, and annually to the Treasury as a loss by fraud.

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Recreational Boating

Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps she is taking to encourage the construction of berths along inland waterways and the coastline for recreational and leisure boating. [27125]

Alun Michael: I have been asked to reply.

We are looking at what action we may need to take for water-based sport and recreation more generally in the light of the research report—"Water-Based Sport and Recreation: the facts" prepared for DEFRA by the School of Environment, University of Brighton and published on 21 December—on facts about water-based sport and recreation on inland rivers, canals and enclosed waters that we published last month. In general it is for local providers to assess demand and supply in order to determine whether there is a need for a change in provision of berths and other facilities for recreational and leisure boating.


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