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Vehicle Keepers' Personal Particulars

Lord Cope of Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): DVLA maintains a record of vehicle keepers not owners. In addition to the police, the law provides for the agency to disclose vehicle keeper information without charge to local authorities for purposes associated with the investigation of an offence or decriminalised parking contravention and for a fee, currently £2.50, to anyone who can demonstrate "reasonable cause". The term is not defined in law and each request is considered on merit.

M.40 Service Station Proposal

The Earl of Harrowby asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Whitty: A proposal for a motorway service area between Junctions 1A and 2 of the M.40, near Hedgerley, is currently the subject of a public inquiry. A decision on whether planning permission should be granted will be a matter for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State in the light of the recommendations of the inquiry Inspector.

South-West Multi-Modal Transport Study and Stonehenge

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Multi-Modal Transport Study for the South West includes a study of the implications which the proposed dualling of the A.303 through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site will have for further dualling of the A.303 (for instance in the Blackdown Hills); whether the currently proposed Stonehenge section is itself being subjected to study in terms of the study's remit; and whether alternatives to the currently proposed Stonehenge section are being examined.[HL4554]

Lord Whitty: The London-South West and South Wales Multi-Modal Study will examine the scope for reducing congestion by better management and modal shift, as well as options for taking forward focused improvements, particularly on the A.303. There are no preconceived ideas. It would not therefore be appropriate to include a specific remit to focus on a particular section of the corridor. However, the study will need to recognise that the A.303 improvement at Stonehenge is in the Targeted Programme of Improvements, that preparatory work on it will continue simultaneously with the study and that there will be a need for close co-ordination between the two processes. Traffic forecasts for the study area and work on the development of multi-modal solutions will recognise this commitment.

The study is not expected to consider alternatives for the Stonehenge scheme but it should be possible, as a sensitivity test, to assess the extent to which traffic forecasts in the study area will alter, should the scheme not go ahead.

DETR/Scottish Executive Concordat

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to publish a concordat with the Scottish Executive.[HL4689]

Lord Whitty: The department has now reached agreement with the Scottish Executive on the terms of a concordat between them. This will be published on 11 November, when copies will be placed in the House Library. The concordat will also be made available on the department's website.

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Stabled Horses: Overnight Supervision

Lord Rowallan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a local authority is entitled to refuse planning permission for the erection of a dwelling adjacent to existing stables with no nearby accommodation to permit supervision overnight.[HL4639]

Lord Whitty: The Government's policy on land use planning in rural areas is set out in Planning Policy Guidance note (PPG) 7. This states that new house building in the open countryside requires special justification--for example, where it is to enable farm workers to live at or near their place of work. In considering a planning application for a dwelling in the countryside, a local planning authority will need to establish whether it is essential for the proper functioning of the enterprise concerned for one or more persons to be readily available at most times, and the extent to which such matters as protection of livestock from theft or injury may contribute to the need for the dwelling.

Anyone who has a planning application refused has the right of appeal to the Secretary of State within six months of the local planning authority's decision.

GM Crop Evaluation Agreement

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether and, if so, how they will ensure that there is a three-year moratorium on the growing of commercial crops of genetically modified plants in the United Kingdom; and how they will vote on this subject at the forthcoming meeting of Environment Ministers of the European Union.[HL4427]

Lord Whitty: On Friday 5 November, my right honourable friend the Minister for the Environment announced a renewed agreement with industry on the conduct of the farm-scale evaluations of GM crops over the next three years (news release 1057, 5 November 1999). During that time, there will be no general unrestricted cultivation of GM crops in the UK, and no direct commercial benefits to the consent holders will arise from the farm scale evaluations. The agenda for the 13-14 December meeting of the Environment Council is not yet available, so we do not know if there will be any vote on this subject.

Trunk Road and Motorway Building Projects

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What trunk road and motorway building projects costing over £20 million are currently under construction, indicating the estimated cost, length of road involved and planned date of completion in each case.[HL4424]

Lord Whitty: I have asked Mr Peter Nutt, the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, to write to the noble Lord.

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Blackfriars Underpass

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied that the condition and appearance of the interior of the Blackfriars underpass, which provides a vehicular link between the Embankment and Upper Thames Street in central London, is appropriate to a world capital city in Millennium Year; and, if not, what action they propose for its improvement.[HL4637]

Lord Whitty: The condition of the underpass is a matter for the highway authority, the Corporation of London. The underpass is cleaned quarterly and a clean is due before Christmas this year. There are also plans to paint Blackfriars Bridge which crosses above the underpass.

Liverpool Democracy Commission Report

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the report of the Liverpool Democracy Commission into the future of local government in Liverpool; and whether and how they intend to facilitate the implementation of its conclusions.[HL4663]

Lord Whitty: The Government welcome the report of the Liverpool Democracy Commission, including the recommendation that Liverpool should have a directly elected mayor, and congratulate Liverpool on this exercise of listening to local people.

Legislation, which has already been passed to end crude universal capping and bring in best value, and forthcoming legislation to modernise political management structures, including allowing directly elected mayors, will help to facilitate the implementation of many of the report's recommendations.

Pakistan: Assistance to New Government

Viscount Brentford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will assist the new Pakistan Government to develop systems to protect that country against corruption in government.[HL4449]

Baroness Amos: Following the military coup on 12 October, the Government announced a freeze on all direct development assistance to the Government of Pakistan.

The Government are presently looking for a commitment by the military authorities to transparent , accountable rule by a democratic civilian government, which will include action to combat corruption, in addition to economic reform and poverty reduction. We are monitoring developments closely and, if and when appropriate, we will consider any requests to assist this process.

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Kosovo: Humanitarian Assistance

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest assessment of the number of people within Kosovo who will be without adequate accommodation during the coming winter; and what action they are taking with others to alleviate distress[HL4528]

Baroness Amos: Over 100,000 houses in Kosovo suffered damage in the conflict, of which half are beyond repair. This affects over 700,000 people. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are distributing emergency repair kits and roofing repair kits in order to create dry shelter in repairable houses, on the basis of one room per family. UNHCR is also identifying up to 20,000 places in community shelter. Forty thousand families are expected to host displaced people. Winterised tents are being distributed as a stop-gap measure, together with stoves and firewood.

We are supporting emergency rehabilitation to restore essential community and public infrastructure, particularly power and water supplies. We have also committed £3 million for emergency work on Pristina airport to keep essential supplies coming into Kosovo and enable 24-hour civil air access during the winter months.

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