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Surplus MoD Property: Disposal Guidelines

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Hayman: We have today published guidelines on the joint working of Ministry of Defence and Regional Government Offices on the disposal of surplus MoD property. Copies have been placed in the library.

The guidelines, which have been prepared with the close co-operation of the Government Offices in the Regions, MoD and my department, are designed to help mitigate any adverse impact on a local community which may follow the closure of a defence establishment. We hope that, by putting in place arrangements for joint working between MoD and the Government Offices, and by bringing into discussions at an early stage local authorities and other agencies which may be involved in planning the future use of redundant sites, the full potential of these sites will be realised, consistent with the principles of sustainable development. It is hoped that these arrangements will also help speed up the disposal process. It should be noted, however, that these guidelines may, in due course, need to be revised to take account of research currently under way into the development of the redundant defence estate, and to reflect the establishment of the Regional Development Agencies. For this reason, they should be seen as interim.

The guidelines, which I am sending to local authorities, bodies responsible for urban and rural regeneration, Government Offices and other interested bodies, will be freely available to others with an interest.

Government Correspondence: Security Classification

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Minister for Local Government and Housing on 1 December (HC Deb, WA 47-8), whether they will instruct civil servants to mark correspondence, which they file, in such a way that it is possible to identify what is not commercially sensitive and so could be released to third parties under the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions' Code of Practice on Open Government without undue expenditure of time and without disproportionate cost.

Baroness Hayman: Civil servants are already instructed on the security classification to be applied to government documents containing commercially sensitive material. Such classification is not of itself a justification for refusing access, but would be an important consideration in reaching decisions on individual cases.

Government security markings are not generally used in correspondence between the department and non-government bodies, such as local authorities, which may nevertheless contain sensitive information. Where the volume of correspondence is large, identifying the commercially sensitive elements as a matter of general

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policy could involve disproportionate cost. The department therefore follows a policy of determining on a case by case basis whether commercial sensitivity should prevent release of any information requested.

Single Vehicle Approval Scheme

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer given by the Baroness Hayman on 30 October (WA 265), whether they are able to delay or will consider delaying the final implementation date of their single vehicle approval specifications under the Motor Vehicle (Approval) Regulations 1996 beyond 1 January 1998; and whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of all the proposed amendments to the regulations dated 1 July 1997.

Baroness Hayman: The European Commission has instructed us to defer implementing the proposals set out in our recent consultation. This instruction is part of a legal procedure that governs the making of technical regulations which could have trade implications within the EU. We remain confident that the British Single Vehicle Approval scheme does not have any adverse effect on the internal market, whilst removing barriers to trade with other parts of the world. Subject to resolution of these matters with the Commission, the date on which we now expect the regulations to come into force is 1 May 1998.

Our proposals to amend the Motor Vehicle (Approval) Regulations 1996 were included with a consultation letter dated 24 September 1997. I have arranged for a copy to be placed in the Library of the House.

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking or have taken to prevent vehicles (cars and motorcycles) that have failed to reach a production standard in the country of manufacture, and second-hand or nearly new vehicles, being "dumped" in the United Kingdom, other than genuine personal imports; and what steps they propose taking to prevent the abuse of single vehicle approval under the Motor Vehicle (Approval) Regulations 1996 by such imports.

Baroness Hayman: Most cars must be type-approved before they can enter service on public roads in Great Britain. The main exceptions are personally imported and amateur-built vehicles. Cars originating in the European Union usually conform with either an EU-wide EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval or a national type approval. Compliance is confirmed by a Certificate of Conformity or a Mutual Recognition Certificate respectively, which must be produced at the time of first registration in Great Britain. For cars that are not the subject of a European type approval, the personal import exemption must be demonstrated by evidence such as a registration or insurance document

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issued in the exporting country and naming the individual as the keeper of the car. The production standard in the country of origin for cars that have not been type-approved in the EU is not strictly relevant for use in Great Britain. Such cars must comply with the appropriate standards in the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and the Road Vehicles (Lighting) Regulations 1989 both as amended. That might require modification of the vehicle.

The proposed Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) Scheme has been devised to minimise the scope for abuse. We intend that all cars up to three years old that are not type-approved will have to undergo an SVA inspection irrespective of who imports them. Cars between three and ten years old not personally imported would also have to undergo SVA. Individuals who can prove they have lived abroad for at least 12 months and used their car there for at least six months will be exempt from SVA if their vehicle is over three years old; if they cannot produce evidence of this, the car will have to undergo an SVA inspection.

Northern Ireland has, or, in the case of SVA plans to have, a similar regulatory framework.

Motorcycles are not currently subject to EU-wide type approval, national type approval, or single vehicle approval procedures, so there are no personal import exemptions for this category of vehicle. All motorcycles must comply with the appropriate standards in the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and the Road Vehicles (Lighting) Regulations 1989 as amended. A framework for EU-wide whole vehicle type approval for two and three-wheeled vehicles was established in 1992 and will begin to take effect from June 1999. Enabling legislation for the UK was made in 1995 and we expect to make proposals for implementation dates and for a complementary single vehicle approval scheme during 1998.

Scotland: Time Zone Regulation

Lord Tanlaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a devolved Scottish Parliament will have power to legislate for the harmonisation of British Standard Time (BST) with Central European Time (CET) for Scottish residents.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The White Paper Scotland's Parliament sets out the Government's proposal that the regulation of time zones should be a reserved matter. The Scottish Parliament would not therefore have power to legislate for the introduction of Central European Time.

Common Fisheries Policy

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of the statement by Lord Sewel in Aberdeen on 21 November that the common

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    fisheries policy gives the United Kingdom access to lucrative European markets when otherwise our fish exports would be subject to price tariffs, they will state what evidence they have that the European Community would impose tariffs on British fish exports if the United Kingdom withdrew from the common fisheries policy; and whether the imposition of such tariffs would be legal.

Lord Sewel: As a member of the European Community, the United Kingdom participates in a common fisheries policy. The common fisheries policy establishes a single market in fisheries products which ensures freedom of movement of goods within the Community. Under Community law, tariffs are set on goods entering the single market from non-member states.

Scotland: Police and Fire Services Capital Allocations

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to increase or decrease Scotland's capital allocations for (a) the police; and (b) the fire service in real terms for the next financial year in comparison to this financial year: and what percentage change this represents in each case.

Lord Sewel: Capital allocations in Scotland for the police in the next financial year will support expenditure of £20.768 million compared with £22.821 million in the current year, a decrease of 9 per cent. Following consultation with chief constables, £2 million of the 1998-99 baseline for capital expenditure has been transferred to current expenditure.

The capital allocation for the fire service in 1998-99 is £15.6 million, which is the same as the capital allocation for the current financial year. These allocations are decided in cash terms.


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