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Planning Appeals

The Earl of Iveagh asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Planning Inspectorate Agency to write to the noble Lord.

Letter from the Chief Executive of the Planning Inspectorate Agency, Mr. C. J. Shepley, dated 19 January 1999.

Lord Whitty has asked me to reply to your Question about planning appeals lodged on the basis of non-determination.

To date in 1998/99, 9.3% of planning appeals received have been against non-determination by the local planning authority. Figures for previous years are as follows:



    1996/97 7.65%


    1995/96 6.59%


    1994/95 5.99%

Planning Applications: Secretary of State's Involvement

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What criteria the Secretary of State for the Environment has adopted for calling in planning applications to which there is substantial local objection or substantial expert objection.[HL439]

Lord Whitty: My right honourable friend's policy is not to interfere unnecessarily with the jurisdiction of local planning authorities. He is therefore very selective about calling in planning applications and will generally take this step only if planning issues of more than local importance are involved. In deciding whether to call in an application, my right honourable friend will take into account all the relevant circumstances in each individual case, including the volume and nature of any objections.

Planning Decisions: Average Length of Time

The Earl of Iveagh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the average length of time taken to determine a planning application in England; and[HL466]

    What percentage of planning applications in England take more than the statutory period to determine.[HL467]

19 Jan 1999 : Column WA96

Lord Whitty: In the 12 months to September 1998, 38 per cent. of all planning decisions made by district planning authorities in England took longer than the statutory eight-week period and 17 per cent. took longer than 13 weeks. Information is not available on the average length of time taken to determine a planning application.

Cross-Channel Rail Passenger Services

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Whitty on 15 December 1998 (WA 139-140) that the British Railways Board published a plan in December 1989 as required under Section 40 of the Channel Tunnel Act 1987 on the development of through Channel Tunnel rail passenger services to the United Kingdom's region and the ongoing duties retained by the BRB in respect of the section, whether they will now require the BRB to publish an update of its plan.[HL410]

Lord Whitty: It is proposed that the BRB will transfer to the Strategic Rail Authority at the earliest opportunity, subject to legislation. Section 40 of the Channel Tunnel Act does not require the Secretary of State to instruct BRB to publish an update of its plan. Nonetheless, government will be commissioning a thorough and independent study of options for regional services and will review the study recently completed by Inter-Capital and Regional Rail Limited and the alternative proposals put forward by the Virgin Group.

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Whitty on 15 December 1998 (WA 139-140) noting that Section 40 of the Channel Tunnel Act 1987 explicitly requires the British Railways Board's plan to include measures which it considers ought to be taken by any person in the United Kingdom or France in relation to through rail passenger services to and from the United Kingdom's regions, what measures the BRB has taken in the light of these wider requirements, notwithstanding the loss of its direct responsibility for their service provision.[HL409]

Lord Whitty: The BRB published a plan in December 1989 which included measures which the BRB considered at that time ought to be taken by any person in respect of Channel Tunnel services. This was kept under review by the BRB and European Passenger Services Ltd. while responsibility for services remained with the board.

Rail Freight Terminals

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What criteria govern the allocation of capital grants from European Commission structural funds to rail freight terminals in areas with Objective 1 status, including any limitation on whether the recipient is in the public or private sector.[HL411]

19 Jan 1999 : Column WA97

Lord Whitty: Support from European Structural Funds is available for activities defined in an area's Single Programming Document. Projects are assessed on the extent to which they contribute to the objectives outlined in the Single Programming Document; whether they offer good value for money; and whether they accord with government policy. In Objective 1 areas any grant offered is up to a maximum of 75 per cent. of eligible costs.

My department has no specific rules on the funding of rail freight terminals and applications from both public and private sector are welcomed.

Prison Service Race Relations Group Report

Baroness Lockwood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the report of the Prison Service Race Relations Group.[HL606]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): A copy of the eighth report of the Prison Service Race Relations Group to the Prisons Board has been placed in the Library.

Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consideration they have given to amending or repealing Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986; and whether they will be taking any action in this regard.[HL414]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Under our proposals for freedom of information, we will review all statutory bars on the disclosure of information, including Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. However, no decision has yet been taken on whether to amend or repeal Section 24.

Human Cloning

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the submissions to the Working Group on Human Cloning (Joint Sub-Committee of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Genetics Advisory Commission (HGAC)) will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses; why the working group comprised four scientists, but no philosophers, professional theologians, psychologists or sociologists; how a group composed in this way

19 Jan 1999 : Column WA98

    can deal adequately with such an issue; and how they intend to prevent "therapeutic" cloning from becoming a stepping stone to full pregnancy cloning.[HL429]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Genetics Advisory Commission (HGAC) gave careful consideration as to how best the responses to the consultation might be made accessible to the wider public. As a result, the report, Cloning issues in Reproduction, Science and Medicine, advises that the responses, unless confidential, can be viewed by prior arrangement at the offices of the HGAC.

The members of the joint working group were nominated by the HFEA and HGAC. The group was chaired by the Reverend Dr. John Polkinghorne (HGAC), one of this country's most respected and experienced ethicists. It also comprised Dr. George Poste (HGAC), Professor Christine Gosden (HFEA) and Dr. Anne McLaren (HFEA), a member of the European Commission's Group of Expert Advisers on Ethics. There was, in addition, a wide range of views available to the authority and commission, including those from religious groups and ethicists, as the result of a public consultation exercise undertaken in the course of the review. All members of the HFEA and HGAC, whose membership includes a wide range of experience and backgrounds, made full contributions to the report and approved the report in its final form for publication.

The report recognises that the safeguards in place are wholly adequate to prevent human reproductive cloning. It also proposes legislation explicitly to ban reproductive cloning and a further review of these issues in five years. These are points that we will be considering as part of our response to the report, which should be available shortly. The Government have, however, made their position clear; reproductive cloning cannot take place in the United Kingdom.

A formal government response to the report will be made shortly.

NHS Budget: Proportion Spent on Men and Women

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether statistics are gathered showing the proportion of the national health budget spent on men and women separately; and, if so, what are the proportions for the past five years.[HL418]

Baroness Hayman: The information requested is not held centrally.



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