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SSSIs: Improved Protection

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Hayman: We are presently considering a number of means for improving the protection and management of Sites of Special Scientific Interest. There is likely to be consultation later this year. We are also examining what further measures are needed to strengthen wildlife protection. If legislation proves necessary we will look for a suitable opportunity.

Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions: Reviews

Baroness Hamwee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many of the reviews currently being undertaken by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions will be published during the parliamentary summer Recess.[HL2782]

Baroness Hayman: Of the reviews currently being undertaken by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the result of only one is expected to be announced during the summer recess. This is the review of the Environmental Action Fund.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Planned Reduction

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they still intend to honour their commitment to a 20 per cent. reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010; and, if so, whether they will publish their plans with projected annual reductions and the assumptions that these projections are based on.[HL2721]

Baroness Hayman: The Government retain their aim of reducing carbon dioxide emissions to 20 per cent. below 1990 levels by 2010. Our first priority must be to make sure that we achieve the legally binding target of a 12.5 per cent. reduction in greenhouse gas emissions which we agreed to in the EU following the United Nations' Kyoto climate change conference.

This summer we will be consulting on policy options for meeting our legally binding target and moving beyond that towards our domestic aim. Later this year the Government intend to publish new energy projections on which our new climate change programme will be based.

London Taxis without Seat Belts

Baroness Jeger asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many licensed taxis operating in London do not have passenger seat belts; and whether, to avoid further injuries, they will consider bringing forward from the year 2000 the requirement to fit passenger seat belts in all such vehicles.[HL2729]

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Baroness Hayman: According to the Public Carriage Office's records, of the 19,082 licensed taxis in London, 2,525 are not equipped with seat belts. Of these taxis without seat belts, 473 were manufactured before 1 April 1982, and are not legally required to have rear seat belt anchorages; the remainder were built between 1 April 1982 and 31 March 1987 and are not legally required to have rear seatbelts. This legal position is the same for taxis as for cars.

There is no requirement that all licensed taxis in London shall have seatbelts by 1 January 2000; there is, however, a requirement that all London taxis shall be wheelchair accessible by that date. That means that London taxis which are not accessible will not have their licences renewed after the end of this year, since taxi licences last for a year. The effect of the accessibility requirement will be further to reduce the number of taxis without passenger seat belts.

Export Licence Refusals

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether statistics on export licences issued and refused for the period 1 January to March 1997 have been placed in the Library of the House.[HL2892]

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The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): The statistics on export licences issued and refused for this period were placed in the Library of the House today.

Competition Bill

Lord Brightman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they refused to include in the Competition Bill an index of defined expressions (60 in number) as in the Government of Wales Bill, the Scotland Bill the School Standards and Framework Bill and the Data Protection Bill enabling the reader to ascertain instantly whether a particular word has a special meaning and where that meaning is to be found; and [HL 2733]

    Whether they consider that the inclusion in the Competition Bill of an index of defined expressions would or would not be user-friendly.[HL2734]

Lord Clinton-Davis: The Government recognise, as the examples quoted show, that an index of defined expressions is useful in some Acts. However whether this is so is a matter for judgment in respect of each Act. In respect of the Competition Bill advice was sought from Parliamentary Counsel. His view was that the nature and structure of the Competition Bill made an index unnecessary and unhelpful for users. The Government accepted this advice.

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