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Strategic Employment Sites (North-East)

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what further changes he is intending to make to draft regional planning guidance for the North East about the two proposed strategic employment sites in the broad location of north Sunderland and west of Stockton. [39607]

Ms Keeble: Over 1,000 comments have been received in response to the proposed changes to draft Regional Planning Guidance for the North East (RPG1) which were published in April 2001. In his letter to the Association of North East Councils (ANEC) announcing the publication of the proposed changes, my right hon. Friend the then Minister for Housing and Planning specifically invited views on the proposal to reduce the number of new greenfield strategic employment sites from four to one.

This proposal raised significant objections from the Regional Planning Body, the local authorities, and the Regional Development Agency (One NorthEast). In the light of all the comments received we are proposing to reinstate the proposal for a strategic employment site in the broad location of North of Nissan, Sunderland. There will be strict control of the development of the site which would be promoted as a high quality site to assist in the creation of new business clusters, rather than as originally envisaged to provide a long term reserve solely for large single users. The re-instatement of the site is on the basis that ANEC will progress the proposed employment land review, and re-allocate or de-allocate unsustainable sites as part of the early review to be undertaken in 2002–03.

To ensure appropriate development of the site it is proposed that after the precise location of the site has been defined a development brief be prepared. A joint brief may be needed given that the area of search straddles three local planning authorities: Sunderland City Council, Gateshead Council and South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council. This should safeguard the site for prestige development of national or regional significance, and ensure that public transport accessibility is maximised. The site boundaries will need to be defined in the relevant unitary development plans.

Whilst the principle of the need for an additional strategic employment site in the Tees Valley is accepted, further work is required to identify more precisely where this should be in the broad area West of Stockton. This proposal should be carried forward as part of the early review of RPG1 in 2002–03.

Comments on the proposed further change are being invited over a twelve week period. These will be considered, along with all the representations already received, before RPG1 is finalised later in the year.

Departmental Resignations

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if payments in excess of salary were (a) owing to and (b) negotiated with (i) Jo Moore and (ii) Martin Sixsmith following their resignations. [38326]

27 Feb 2002 : Column 1376W

Mr. Byers: Jo Moore will be paid in accordance with her contract. Details are a confidential matter between the individuals and the Department.

With regard to Martin Sixsmith, I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by Sir Richard Mottram on 25 February, a copy of which is available in the Libraries of the House.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he was first informed of the decisions of (a) Jo Moore and (b) Martin Sixsmith to resign; and by whom. [38325]

Mr. Byers: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the statement I made on Tuesday 26 February to this House and that of Sir Richard Mottram, the Permanent Secretary of my Department, made on Monday 25 February, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

Regional Development Agencies

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the organisations which were subsumed into the South West Regional Development Agency. [37295]

Alan Johnson: I have been asked to reply.

The five organisations which either were subsumed into the RDA or from which the RDA took staff were:

The RDA was established on 1 April 1999. WEDA and DCDI ceased to exist operationally from that date; both these organisations and the RDC were wound up by April 2000.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment the Government made of (a) the role of, (b) the effectiveness of and (c) the projects undertaken by the regional development agencies; how often these reviews take place; and if he will make a statement. [37260]

Alan Johnson: I have been asked to reply.

We regularly assess the role and effectiveness of the regional development agencies. Under the Single Programme Budget arrangements, which take effect on 1 April 2002, the Government will be reviewing annually RDAs' effectiveness in achieving progress towards the realisation of their Regional Economic Strategies, and in contributing towards the regional achievement of the national targets the Government have set.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the costs that have been incurred by each individual regional development agency in each year since their establishment. [37258]

Alan Johnson: I have been asked to reply.

Since their inception the RDAs have been given an annual administration budget to cover the running costs of each agency. The budgets are as follows.

27 Feb 2002 : Column 1377W

Administration Budget (running costs)

One North East8,79110,51312,853
North West Development Agency11,83713,87614,956
Yorkshire Forward8,6598,2849,989
East Midlands Development Agency5,0137,3777,528
Advantage West Midlands7,4218,3528,793
East of England Development Agency4,5704,8495,836
South East Development Agency6,4166,3437,143
South West Development Agency7,0868,3809,099
London Development Agencyn/a6,0099,470

Airport Security

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what health and safety assessments have taken place on the eye scanning techniques on trial at Heathrow Airport. [36720]

Angela Eagle: I have been asked to reply.

The iris recognition trial at Heathrow is being run in conjunction with the United Kingdom (UK) Immigration Service, British Airports Authority, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and the technology supplier EyeTicket Corporation of the United States of America. All organisations are members of the Simplifying Passenger Travel Interest Group whose focus is on streamlining the various processes involved in a passenger's air journey. Participants are selected airline frequent flyer visitors to the United Kingdom approved by the Immigration Service for entry into the voluntary scheme.

The technology used in this trial involves a camera which takes a black and white picture of a passenger's eye to analyse the iris pattern. This is then recorded as a digital code on a secure database. Once registered, passengers glance into a separate camera at an iris recognition station and have their identity verified before being granted automated entry to the United Kingdom.

Eyeticket advise that the cameras in the trial are video cameras. No lasers or any other potentially harmful light sources are used. The optical subsystem manufacture has certified that the camera systems and illumination are in compliance with the latest worldwide standards for eye safety.

Health and Safety Officers from the Immigration Service and British Airport Authority (BAA) have carried out environmental risk assessments within the area where the iris registration and recognition systems are located. Both have reported that the risk to staff and passengers posed by the presence of the systems is insignificant.


Police SSAs

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the standard spending assessment per head of population in each police authority area in England and Wales and the average figure for these authorities. [28664]

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Mr. Denham: The Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) for each police authority in England and Wales per head of population in 2001–02 and 2002–03 is given in the table.

The average SSA per head for 2001–02 is £147.63 and for 2002–03 is £147.92


Police forceSSA per head 2001–02SSA per head 2002–03
Avon and Somerset120.85120.89
City of London9,560.609,324.58
Devon and Cornwall119.69119.36
Dyfed Powys117.22118.10
Greater Manchester156.96157.57
Metropolitan police250.42249.92
North Wales125.06124.36
North Yorkshire112.38111.80
South Wales141.76143.85
South Yorkshire141.85141.91
Thames Valley115.83115.37
West Mercia109.00108.44
West Midlands155.99157.59
West Yorkshire146.85147.32
England and Wales147.63147.92

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