Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


3 Jul 2000 : Column WA113

Written Answers

Monday, 3rd July 2000.

EU External Aid Programme: Audit

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 6 June (WA 143), when the European Court of Auditors first commented on the European Union External Aid Programme and what action was taken as a result; and whether they will ask the Court to keep the aid programme under continuous review, with particular reference to the European Union commitment to restoring through navigation on the Danube by clearing the obstructions at Novi Sad.[HL2817]

Baroness Amos: Audit for the European Union External Aid Programme is the responsibility of the European Court of Auditors, who produce a report in November each year. Through this report, they already keep the aid programme under continuous review.

We are following closely progress on the European Commission's commitment of up to 22 million euros for clearance of the Danube at Novi Sad.

British Council: Primary and Secondary Education in Developing Countries

Baroness Rawlings asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by Baroness Amos on 20 June (H.L. Deb., col. 150), what role the British Council will play in developing primary and secondary education in developing countries.[HL2979]

Baroness Amos: The council undertakes work for the Department for International Development (DFID) under contract arrangements. This is carried out on an entirely commercial basis, with the council competing against others who provide services in the areas of interest to the council. DFID will continue to invite the council to submit proposals to manage work it is commissioning in these and other areas of our development policy.

Lorries: Weight and Dimension Limits

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the present maximum weight, height and length of lorries permitted to use roads in the United Kingdom; when these maximum weights, heights and lengths were last imposed and what were the previous dimensions; and whether these maxima are set by United Kingdom or European Union law

3 Jul 2000 : Column WA114

    and, if the latter, whether by unanimity or qualified majority.[HL3054]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The maximum weights for lorries in the United Kingdom is 41 tonnes for general transport and 44 tonnes when used for combined road/rail transport.

The maximum length is 12 metres for a single rigid vehicle, 16.5 metres for an articulated vehicle and 18.75 metres for a road train (a combination of a lorry and trailer).

There are no regulations limiting the height of lorries.

The changes were made as follows:

Year of changeFromTo
Weight199938 tonnes41 tonnes
Length (single vehicle)198611 metres12 metres
Length (articulated vehicles)199015.5 metres16.5 metres
Length (road train)199818.35 metres18.75 metres

Weight limits are set by the UK regulations. The other dimensions are set by EU Directive 96/53/EC, which was agreed by qualified majority voting.


Special Vehicles: Excise Duty

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of the case R v Reilly Concrete Pumping, what is the correct taxation class for the following types of vehicle:


    (a) a mobile crane;


    (b) a digging machine;


    (c) a concrete pumping machine; and


    (d) a works truck,


    where the vehicle was originally designed and constructed as a goods vehicle; and [HL3019]

    In the light of the case R v Reilly Concrete Pumping, what is the correct taxation for the following classes of vehicle if they were originally designed, constructed and are still used as:


    (a) a mobile crane;


    (b) a digging machine;


    (c) a concrete pumping machine; and


    (d) a works truck, [HL3020]

Lord Whitty: For (a), mobile cranes, and (b), digging machines, the relevant sections of Part IV of Schedule 1 to the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 do not refer to the vehicle's original design and construction, but their design and construction at the time when they were being used for these purposes. Both types would therefore fall to be taxed in the Special Vehicles class with an annual rate of duty of £165.

3 Jul 2000 : Column WA115

For (c), a concrete pumping machine, the effect of the Appeal Court judgement in R v Reilly Concrete Pumping is that such a vehicle should be licensed in the goods vehicle tax class appropriate to its operating weight and axle configuration. This applies regardless of whether the vehicle was originally constructed as a concrete pump or adapted from a vehicle chassis originally used for other purposes.

For (d), a works truck, so long as the vehicle was designed for use within private premises and is used in accordance with paragraph 4(6) of Schedule 1 to the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994, the vehicle would fall to be licensed as a works truck in the Special Vehicles tax class, with an annual rate of duty of £165.

Vehicle Excise Duty: Advice

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What procedure individuals should follow if they are not sure of the correct taxation class of a vehicle for which they are responsible. [HL3022]

Lord Whitty: Any person with a query concerning the correct taxation class of a vehicle should contact their local DVLA Vehicle Registration Office--whose address can be found in their local telephone directory--or the Vehicle Enquiry Unit at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre in Swansea.

Minister for Transport: Travel on London Underground

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many journeys the Minister for Transport has made on London Underground in the last month, the last three months and the last six months.[HL3097]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): Ministers travel by car and by public transport on a regular basis on official visits and on journeys to their office.

We are required under the Ministerial Code always to make efficient and cost-effective travel arrangements.

Merrywood School, Bristol

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, when the Secretary of State for Education and Employment spoke in Bristol on 22 June, he explained his reasons for agreeing to the closure of Merrywood School, Knowle West, Bristol.[HL3039]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): My right honourable friend met a delegation in his department

3 Jul 2000 : Column WA116

prior to the decision being taken on the closure of Merrywood School. He listened carefully to the concerns of those objecting to the proposals before coming to a final decision. On his visit to Bristol on 22 June, he spoke to representatives of those campaigning against the closure of Merrywood School and explained the reasons for his decision. Given in particular the small number of pupils on roll at the school, these reasons were readily understood.

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, when the Secretary of State for Education and Employment spoke in Bristol on 22 June, he received any representations against the closure of Merrywood School, Knowle West, Bristol, from the Member of Parliament for Bristol South, or the local Councillors Kelvin Blake and George Micklewright.[HL3040]

Baroness Blackstone: Given an oil spillage on the M.4, it was not possible for the Member of Parliament for Bristol South to be in Bristol with my right honourable friend on 22 June. I am not aware, out of the 300 people who attended the meeting in Bristol, who in particular spoke to my right honourable friend.

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether conversations about the closure of Merrywood School, Knowle West, Bristol, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment has had with his Parliamentary Private Secretary, the Member of Parliament for Bristol East.[HL3041]

Baroness Blackstone: Conversations between my right honouarable friend and MPs are personal and private, but I see no reason why my right honourable friend would have discussed with his Parliamentary Private Secretary an issue which does not affect her constituency.

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many times the Secretary of State for Education and Employment has listened to the tape asking him to reconsider his decision to close Merrywood School, Knowle West, Bristol, given to him during his visit to Bristol on 22 June.[HL3042]

Baroness Blackstone: This is not an appropriate Question for me to answer. However, I am aware that my right honourable friend has listened to material produced previously and gave his assurances on 22 June that he would listen to the tape, and thus he will have done so.

Tunisia: Human Rights

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ask the Government of Tunisia to comply with the request by the United Nations

3 Jul 2000 : Column WA117

    Special Rapporteurs on Torture and on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers for invitations to visit Tunisia.[HL2988]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The UK Government regularly raises human rights with the Tunisian Government, as my honourable friend the Minster of State, Peter Hain, did when he visited the country in April 2000. We will raise this specific issue in the course of our normal contacts.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page