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Forest Enterprise: Quinquennial Review

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: The Quinquennial Review of Forest Enterprise, which was announced on 17 May, has not yet reached its conclusion. The Review has been greatly assisted by the responses from a wide range of Forest Enterprise's customers and from other bodies with which it has a relationship.

Ministerial and Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances

Baroness Howells of St Davids asked the Leader of the House:

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has today written to Sir Michael Perry, the Chairman of the Senior Salaries Review Body, in the following terms.

"In 1996 the Senior Salaries Review Body undertook a comprehensive review of the pay of Members of Parliament. One of your recommendations, which the then Government accepted, was that pay should be reviewed every three years, beginning in 2000.

You are about to start work on that review. I am therefore writing to confirm that the Government would like to see the following areas covered in your report:

    (ii) the salaries of Ministers and other office-holders

    (iii) the rate and structure of Peers' expenses allowances, including the secretarial allowance for Ministers and other paid office-holders in the House of Lords

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    (iv) the Office Costs Allowance in the House of Commons.

In addition, I should be grateful if the SSRB would consider the present system of calculating the Resettlement Grant.

I look forward to receiving your recommendations early next year".

Transport Council, 2 October

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the EU Transport Council on 2 October.[HL4113]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The Transport Council met in Luxembourg on 2 October. I represented the United Kingdom.

The Council adopted a resolution on air passenger rights, setting out desired improvements, to be achieved principally through voluntary commitments by airlines, backed up if necessary by Community legislation. I emphasised the importance of better treatment for passengers, pointing out that the UK competition authorities had recently secured improvements in IATA's recommended conditions of carriage.

A number of other aviation issues were discussed. The Commission reported on its proposal for an EU Aviation Safety Agency to help draw up Community aircraft safety standards. The Presidency undertook to make progress as soon as possible and the December Council will address the issue again. During discussion of airport slot allocation, the Commission noted the need for progress on better use of airport capacity and invited delegations to submit written comments to help it formulate a revised proposal. The Commission reported on the continuing discussions with Russia on the issue of royalty payments for flights over Siberia, and on progress in the High Level Group on a Single European Sky.

There was a debate on the Commission's recent Communication on road transport. During discussion of the need for a specific working time directive on road transport, I made clear that UK support for the directive depended on the way it dealt with our concerns on night work, the maximum working week, and individual opt-outs. A particular concern of ours has been coverage of the self-employed. I, with a majority of other Ministers, was able to accept the provisional exclusion of the self-employed from the directive, pending a review two years after transposition. There was general agreement with the Presidency's suggestion that limiting driving time (rather than working time) rules should be clarified and simplified to ensure consistent application across the EU. All of the Ministers were in favour of greater efforts to combat illegal employment of third country drivers. There was similarly broad support for Commission ideas on the enforcement of existing rules

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and on driver training. The Presidency concluded that consensus existed for action on those points. It also concluded that there was broad agreement on the provisional exclusion of the self-employed from the road working time directive. Work will continue with a view to reaching common position on that Directive at a future Council on this basis.

The Council further debated two of the legislative proposals arising from the loss of the Erika tanker off the Brittany coast last year. The debate opened with a discussion of the proposal on port state control of shipping, which would give the Commission responsibility for recognising member states' appointed ship inspection organisations. The Presidency noted that there was general agreement among member states. The Commission was concerned that Council had weakened the impact of its proposal. The matter will be further debated in the light of the European Parliament's first reading. The Council agreed a common EU approach to negotiations in the International Martime Organisation on the timetable for the accelerated phasing out of single-hulled tankers, with the objective of alignment with current US legislation.

The Council went on to discuss the proposals contained in a Presidency paper on further measures in maritime safety (the "Erika II" package). During that debate, I joined other Ministers in emphasising that, because of the international nature of shipping, it was necessary for negotiation to take place at global level. Following the debate, the Presidency drew the following conclusions: surveillance of ships with hazardous cargoes should proceed in accordance with international law; improvement in levels of compensation for oil spills was necessary, with appropriate action being taken within existing international conventions, but with the possibility of an additional EU compensation regime if necessary. The Commission would make further proposals on maritime employment and training, and on a European maritime safety structure, which would work with national authorities and improve co-operation and transparency. The Erika II package will be further discussed at the European Council in Biarritz on 13 October.

The Council discussed the proposed Galileo satellite navigation system, concentrating on four issues--financing, system architecture, management structure and services to be provided--which will need to be agreed if the project is to continue. The Commission presented some figures on the costs and benefits of the system, suggesting that it will be funded primarily from EU budgets and through the European Space Agency until the launch phase in 2006-2007. I joined other Ministers in stressing the need for more detailed information on all aspects of the project, including a thorough cost-benefit analysis, in good time for the Council's decision in December on whether to proceed beyond the current definition phase of the project. The Commission promised to submit a Communication on Galileo in the course of the next few weeks.

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There was discussion of a draft regulation on allocation of Swiss transit permits for HGVs. The Presidency noted the remaining disagreements and concluded that Coreper should aim to reach a decision by November on the permit allocation question.

The Commission presented two linked legislative proposals on public transport services. The intention of the proposal on public service requirements was to address the reality of the Single Market in the provision of public transport services. The other proposal relates to state aid in public transport. In its statement on this, the Commission said that it would look favourably on infrastructure investment, and the proposal would take into account the needs of small islands. The Presidency concluded that there would be an orientation debate at the December Council.

London Underground

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations the Minister for Transport has received from the Health and Safety Executive about London Underground; and, in the light of the incident on 4 September involving a blown fuse on the Central Line, whether he is considering that advice.[HL3967]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) holds meetings with the department to keep Ministers informed of any safety issue arising on LUL.

I understand that London Underground Limited (LUL) is still carrying out its investigation into the incident referred to by the noble Lord, and the investigation is likely to take about three to four months. The report will be submitted to the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE's) Railway Inspectorate, which will assess its adequacy and ensure that any necessary action is implemented by LUL. The result of HSE's assessment, will be made available to Ministers.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many escalators were out of action on the London Underground during the latest Bank Holiday weekend.[HL3964]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: During the period Saturday 26 August to Monday 28 August, 34 escalators were out of service on London Underground out of a total of 402 currently commissioned for passenger service. Of the 34, four were out of action for replacement and 15 for planned maintenance.

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