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Baroness Lockwood asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The Government accept the view put by the then Countryside Commission in Section 4 of their publication Protecting our finest landscapes: advice to Government (1998), that the landscape qualities of National Parks and Areas of Oustanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are equivalent. Conserving and enhancing the beauty of the landscape are objectives for both types of designation. The Government therefore believe that the protection given to both types of area by the land use planning system should also be equivalent.

The Government's planning policies for AONBs are set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note (PPG) 7: The Countryside--Environmental Quality and Economic and Social Development (Revised February 1997). PPG7 states that "The Government regards National Park Designation as conferring the highest status of protection as far as landscape and scenic beauty are concerned." This reflects the National Park Authorities' primary objective to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Parks. It does not mean that the landscape beauty of AONBs is in any way inferior to that of National Parks. AONBS should therefore share the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty.

In relation to major projects, it is the Government's view that, henceforth, the assessment required in paragraph 4.5 of PPG7 in National Parks should also apply to proposals for major development in AONBs. Such proposals should be demonstrated to be in the public interest before being allowed to proceed. Consideration of applications should therefore normally include an assessment of:



    (ii) the cost of and scope for developing elsewhere outside the area or meeting the need for it in some other way;


    (iii) any detrimental effect on the environment and the landscape, and the extent to which that should be moderated.

The guidance in the preceding paragraph therefore replaces the last two sentences of paragraph 4.8 of PPG7.

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Rail Passenger Service Franchises

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In assessing bids for new or extended rail passenger franchises, what weight is given to: (a) present performance of franchisees: (b) new service proposals; and (c) price offered.[HL2759]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): There are no specified weightings. The Instructions and Guidance which the Deputy Prime Minister gave to the Franchising Director last year ask him to evaluate replacement bids giving due weight to the following criteria; commitment to performance, customer services, innovation, investment and efficiency; the extent to which extra or earlier investment can be obtained; the extent to which better performance can be secured; the extent to which integrated transport measures can be achieved; the extent to which passengers will be a greater voice in the level and standard of services and affordability and value for money to the taxpayer.

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What levels of poor service to passengers would exclude existing franchise operators from being awarded new or extended rail passenger franchises in compliance with the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising Objectives, Instructions and Guidance for the Secretary of State.[HL2760]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: There are no specific levels--past performance is one of the many criteria that will be taken into account when assessing bids for new franchises.

Badger Cull: Cost of Research

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much money they have spent and are planning to spend in the immediate future on killing badgers.[HL2616]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): The Government's research strategy for cattle TB includes a badger culling trial designed to establish what contribution badgers make to TB in cattle and to assess whether culling them helps to reduce the disease in cattle. The costs associated with the trial, including extensive surveying of badger territories, along with vehicles, office accommodation and other overheads were £4.2 million in 1999-2000. Final allocations for the current year have yet to be decided.

BSE and Whole Herd Slaughter

Lord Glentoran asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to adopt a whole herd slaughter policy for future BSE incidents.[HL2618]

13 Jun 2000 : Column WA197

Baroness Hayman: No.

Lord Glentoran asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they support the action last week of the Labour Members of the European Parliament, who voted for a retrospective whole herd slaughter policy.[HL2619]

Baroness Hayman: The agreed policy of the Labour group of MEPs was to vote against the amendments that would introduce herd slaughter. Mistaken votes recorded for two Labour MEPs were subsequently corrected.

Interception of Communications Tribunal: President

Lord Peston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements have been made following the expiry of the term of appointment of the President of the Interception of Communications Tribunal on 4 April.[HL2831]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): Mr Justice Burton has been appointed as President of the Interception of Communications Tribunal for a period of five years.

Immigration and Nationality Directorate: Complaints Audit Committee Report

Lord Peston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the annual report for 1999 of the Complaints Audit Committee of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate.[HL2832]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: A copy of the report has been placed in the Library. It is a useful and informative document and I am grateful to the Committee for its comments and its recommendations, which will all be followed up. The report also includes details of the broadening of the Committee's terms of reference to reflect its role in monitoring complaints arising from the enhanced powers of immigration officers under Part VII of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

Prison Service Race Relations Group: Report

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the report of the Prison Service race relations group.[HL2829]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: A copy of the ninth report of the Prison Service race relations group to the Prison Service Management Board has been placed in the Library.

13 Jun 2000 : Column WA198

Home Office: Expenditure Limit

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals they have for changes to the 2000-01 department expenditure limits within the Home Secretary's responsibility.[HL2830]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate, the Departmental Expenditure Limited (DEL), which covers Class IV Vote 1 (Home Office administration, police, probation, immigration and other services, England and Wales) and Vote 2 (Prisons, England and Wales), will be increased by £42,050,000 from £8,068,786,000 to £8,110,836,000.

The changes are the net effect of the following transfers: £1,200,000 to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Class III Vote 1) in respect of neighbourhood wardens; £20,200,000 from the DEL Reserve for police modernisation; £2,900,000 from the Capital Modernisation Fund for the electronic chipping of goods; and, £20,150,000 from the Capital Modernisation Fund for the national strategy for police information systems.

The increases will be offset by a charge on the Reserve and will not, therefore, add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Changes to the budgeted amount for the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, which includes the costs of dealing with asylum seekers, have yet to be confirmed.

Merrywood School Closure

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answers by the Baroness Blackstone on 23 March (WA38) and 5 June (WA133), what discussions took place between the Member of Parliament for Bristol South and Ministers other than in the Department for Education and Employment.[HL2729]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): I am not aware of any discussions having taken place between the Member of Parliament for Bristol South and Ministers of other departments. As the noble Lord will be aware, the decision on the proposal to close Merrywood School was for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. Any discussions with interested parties were therefore conducted with my ministerial colleagues.

13 Jun 2000 : Column WA199


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