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Government Policy: Regional Implications

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Reaching Out was published in February 2000. The Government accepted all of its 81 conclusions.

A key conclusion was that there should be new co-ordination arrangements. The Regional Co-ordination Unit (RCU) was established in April. In line with the report's recommendation, the RCU is an inter-departmental unit based in the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. It reports to the Deputy Prime Minister, under my day-to-day direction.

The RCU has prepared an action plan identifying the key areas in which we need a new approach to developing and implementing government policy with regional implications. The plan will be published on Friday 27 October and copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The plan will also be published on the website, together with a summary of progress on implementing the 81 detailed conclusions of the PIU report. The website reference is www.government-offices.gov.uk.

Road Safety: Working Time Directive

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): I am not aware of any research which has been undertaken, either in the UK or by the Commission, which directly addresses this issue. The Government are concerned about the enforceability of regulations in relation to the self-employed. Issues such as road safety and fair competition are already addressed under European drivers' hours legislation (EC 3820/85) which applies to all drivers who drive the vehicles subject to it.

Farm Riding Scheme

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the terms and conditions for the operation of the proposed farm riding scheme; and how these terms and conditions compare with those governing existing commercial riding establishments; and [HL4255]

    What licensing requirements are proposed for the farm riding establishments created under the farm riding scheme; and [HL4256]

    What date the proposed farm riding scheme will come into operation. [HL4257]

Lord Whitty: In our public consultation paper Rate Relief for Horse Enterprises on Farms (August 2000) we proposed that small, newly established horse-related enterprises on working farms, including riding schools, should receive rate relief. The consultation paper suggested that such enterprises with rateable values below £6,000 should receive mandatory rate relief of 50 per cent, with the local authority having the discretion to increase the relief to up to 100 per cent of the rates bill.

Other than attracting rate relief these farm-based enterprises would be treated no differently from other horse-related enterprises. The implementation of the rate relief scheme would require primary legislation. We are currently considering the responses to the consultation paper.

Local Councils: New Constitutions

Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the guidance on new council constitutions under Part II of the Local Government Act 2000 will be published.[HL4392]

Lord Whitty: My right honourable friend the Minister for Local Government and the Regions has today commenced the duties on local authorities under Part II of the Local Government Act 2000 to consult on and draw up proposals for new constitutions.

My right honourable friend has also published guidance on new council constitutions for English local authorities and associated statutory directions,

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together with guidelines on the consultation process. Copies of these documents have been placed in the Library of the House.

My right honourable friend has also today laid before the House copies of the following regulations: Local Authorities (Functions and Responsibilities) (England) Regulations 2000; Local Authorities (Arrangements for the Discharge of Functions) (England) Regulations 2000; Local Authorities (Referendums) (Petitions and Directions) (England) Regulations 2000; and Local Authorities (Proposals for Alternative Arrangements) (England) Regulations 2000.

This is an exciting time of change for councils as they start to consult local communities on their new constitutions, which will lead to greater efficiency, transparency and accountability. In many areas councils have already begun consulting local people and experimenting with a form of new arrangements. The guidance will help councils build on what has already been achieved.

The Government expect the consultation to be meaningful and wide-ranging and to engage local people in discussions about the full range of options for change, including the chance to vote for a directly elected mayor if they want one. That is why today my right honourable friend is also publishing guidelines on consultation which offer practical help to councils.

The framework is now in place for councils to begin the formal process of consulting local people and drawing up proposals for their new constitution. It is now for councils to ask their communities how they want to be governed. Where people want a directly elected mayor they will be able to have one.

Television Licence Fees

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will announce the television licence fees that will come into force next year. [HL4379]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: On 21 February this year my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport announced the

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Government's conclusions on the recommendations of the independent review panel on the future funding of the BBC. In addition to a range of measures designed to improve BBC efficiency and accountability, the Government introduced a new funding formula which provides for changes in the licence fee of RPI plus 1.5 per cent for each year from 2000-01 to 2006-07. This formula will enable the BBC to provide a strong and distinctive schedule of benchmark quality programmes and remain at the forefront of the development of digital broadcasting services.

Application of the RPI figure of 3.3 per cent for the year to September 2000, plus 1.5 per cent, to the current unrounded licence fees produces new rounded totals of £109 for a colour licence and £36.50 for a black and white licence. The new licence fees will come into force on 1 April 2001. The necessary regulations to bring these fees into force will be laid before the House in due course.

NGOs: Appointment of Asian Women

Baroness Uddin asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Asian women have been appointed to non-governmental organisations over the past 24 months. [HL4084]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): For the purpose of this answer, non-governmental organisations has been taken to mean non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs).

Details of the ethnic origin of appointees in the form requested are not held centrally but aggregated figures of people holding public appointments as recorded in the annual Cabinet Office publication Public Bodies are as follows:

YearTotal Ethnic Minority AppointmentsEthnic Minority Appointments by Gender
MenWomen
1 Sep 971,377 (3.6%)947 (68.8%)430 (31.2%)
1 Sep 981,339 (3.7%)924 (69%)415 (31%)
1 Sep 991,649 (4.7%)1,117 (68%)532 (32%)



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