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Planning Decisions: Performance Checklist

The Earl of Iveagh asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The Government issued on 12 January 1999 the Planning Performance Checklist for the 12 months ending September 1998. This ranks local planning authorities in England according to the

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percentage of planning applications decided within eight weeks. A copy has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

A.66 Temple Sowerby Bypass

Lord Hothfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether preparation work to take forward the A.66 Temple Sowerby Bypass and improvement at Winderwath is now at a state where the next stage towards construction can be anticipated.[HL657]

Lord Whitty: As I announced in a Written Answer on 10 December (WA 110-113), the next statutory procedure for this scheme is the publication of draft orders. This is expected to take place during 2001-02.

A.66 Safety Study

Lord Hothfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What options have been identified by the A.66 safety study proposed in A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England, July 1998.[HL656]

Lord Whitty: We are currently consulting regional planning bodies on the programme of 26 studies proposed in A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England. Subject to their views, I would expect work on the A.66 study to begin in the spring and report early in 2000.

VDUs and Deterioration of Eyesight

Baroness Macleod of Borve asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What health and safety advice they have given to employers and employees with a view to preventing deterioration of eyesight as a result of the use of computers at work.[HL659]

Lord Whitty: There is no scientific evidence that use of computers causes disease or permanent damage to eyes. However, long spells of work on computers can lead to tired eyes and discomfort. The Health and Safety Executive has issued guidance, including a free booklet Working with VDUs, on how to prevent discomfort; for example, by good lighting, avoiding reflections and glare on the screen and by having an eye test to correct any pre-existing eyesight problems. Working with VDUs was revised in 1998 and a copy is available in the Library.

A. Simmers

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any government department or any publicly funded bodies or the Inland Revenue or Customs and Excise are creditors to A. Simmers, A. Simmers (Farms) and A. Simmers (Cairnbogie),

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    all now in receivership; and, if any, what amounts.[HL585]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): Amounts due to be paid to government departments are:


    (a) Inland Revenue--£295,000;


    (b) Department of Employment--£42,000.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What grants and loans have been given by them or by any publicly funded bodies over the last 10 years to the agriculture companies of A. Simmers, A. Simmers (Farms) and A. Simmers (Cairnbogie).[HL584]

Lord Sewel: Grampian Enterprise Limited paid out the following grants:


    (a) 1993--£6,500 for a business development review;


    (b) 1996--£5,900 for a feasibility survey, business plan and market survey for the possible purchase of Glen Garioch Distillery.

Scotpigs

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the new company Scotpigs which has acquired the assets of A. Simmers, A. Simmers (Farms) and A. Simmers (Cairnbogie) has applied to any government department or any publicly funded body for a grant or loan; and whether they will give details of any such application and the decision made on it.[HL586]

Lord Sewel: There is no record of the new company, Scotpigs, having applied to any government or any publicly funded body for a grant or a loan.

Coppicing in Scotland

The Earl of Mar and Kellie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are actively encouraging the establishment of coppicing, and the coppice-crafts, in Scotland.[HL568]

Lord Sewel: Under the Forestry Commission's Woodland Grant Scheme, we encourage landowners to coppice native woodland where this is appropriate. The commission also helps to promote new markets for coppice products through local initiatives, such as the Argyll Green Woodworkers. While some of the largest traditional markets for coppice products--for example bark for tanning--have now disappeared, there has been a resurgence of other coppice crafts, such as green wood working and charcoal production.

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Secretary of State for Scotland: Responsibilities

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Scotland after devolution.[HL587]

Lord Sewel: The Government set out their proposals for the role of the Secretary of State for Scotland after devolution in the White Paper Scotland's Parliament (cm 3658). It is intended that the Secretary of State will focus on promoting communication between the Scottish Parliament and Ministers and the UK Parliament and Government on matters of mutual interest; and on representing Scottish interests in reserved areas.

Royal Parks: Commercial Events

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Royal Parks Agency is expecting to receive £1 million from Messrs. Cardington in respect of the concerts in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens in 1999 and other commercial activities related to the Royal Parks; and [HL628]

    What consultations with neighbouring amenity societies were conducted before plans for concerts in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and other commercial activities in the Royal Parks were developed; and [HL629]

    Whether the Royal Parks Agency has conducted environmental impact assessments of the proposed events in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens in relation to (a) the grass, shrubs, trees and wildlife; (b) noise levels; (c) the effect around the park of the arrival and departure of, in each case, some tens of thousands of people; and (d) the timescale of subsequent clear-up, both in the park and in the areas around it, for which participants will be arriving before 4 p.m. and departing after 10 p.m.[HL630]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Responsibility for the subject of these questions has been delegated to the Royal Parks Agency under its Chief Executive, Mr. David Welch. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from the Head of Policy of the Royal Parks Agency, Viviane Robertson, dated 28 January 1999:

In the absence of the Chief Executive, I have been asked by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to reply to your Parliamentary Questions about events proposed for 1999 in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

The Agency expects to receive income in the region of £1 million from all events not only those in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. But this figure assumes all proposals come to fruition and also includes some events, which are not managed by our Marketing Partner.

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The Agency does not consult neighbouring amenity societies about proposed events in the Parks but it has informed the Friends of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens about the proposed concerns and its marketing proposals.

The Agency is not required to carry out environmental impact assessments on proposed events. These assessments are only required before undertaking industrial or other permanent construction developments. However, when considering proposals for events, the Agency takes into account their impact on the Park, access and dispersal arrangements, noise levels and litter clearance.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all the arrangements between the Royal Parks Agency and Messrs Cardington (an Ofex-quoted company), particularly concerning the latter's commercial activities in the Royal Parks to include nine sound-amplified ticketed pop concerts in Hyde Park and three in Kensington Gardens in 1999, have been approved by Ministers and are fully consistent with the Government's commitments, in line with the recommendations of Dame Jennifer Jenkins' report on the Royal Parks, not to allow their commercialisation.[HL627]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The agency has entered into these arrangements in response to Ministers' request that they promote more events than hitherto in order to help attract a wider range of visitors to the parks and to generate additional income. This income is to be retained by the agency and used to help meet the costs of maintenance of the parks' infrastructure. The Government are content that these arrangements are consistent with their own commitment to the recommendations of the Royal Parks Review Group's report which were originally accepted, in principle, by the previous government.


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