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Sugar Regime Reform: EU Policy Implications

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): United Kingdom negotiators have made clear that we think it essential that the coverage of the studies should be comprehensive and that they should be handled transparently, with all those concerned being given an opportunity to input. We have also pressed for the implications of the Commission's XEverything But Arms" proposal to be fully considered in the context of the current sugar reform discussions.

Brown Rat Population

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the brown rat population in England; whether the population is increasing; and whether there is a noticeable increase in the immunity of the species to poisons containing warfarin.[HL56]

Baroness Hayman: A report published by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee in 1995 estimated the brown rat population in England at 5° million. No figures on trends over recent years are available. Information on the level of rodent infestation was collected as part of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions' 1996 English House Condition Survey and published in January 2000. The results show that, in general, the level of rodent infestations is low, and is lower compared to a previous survey in 1993. Overall, the 1996 survey found that 1.7 per cent of properties had rats present outside and 0.4 per cent had rats inside. The detailed results are available in the report XRodent infestations in domestic properties in England", a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

Under the provisions of the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949, local authorities are responsible, as far as is practicable, for keeping their district free of rodents. They also have powers to require occupiers of land to keep their land free from rodents.

Surveillance by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has shown that in some parts of the country rats are resistant to warfarin; however, stronger Xsecond generation" anticoagulant rodenticides are available for the control of warfarin-resistant rats. In addition to lethal methods of control, heavy emphasis is placed throughout the pest control industry on the need to maintain hygiene and to proof premises against the entry of rodents.

SERPS and Public Service Pensions Increase Mechanism

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 23 November (WA 87), whether they will now re-examine their policy of increasing SERPS and public service pensions annually in line

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    with the September Retail Prices Index to see whether it would be more equitable to make annual increases to these pensions in line with the percentage increase in the basic state retirement pension.[HL18]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): No. SERPs and public service provisions increase in line with the Retail Prices Index. We have no plans to alter that arrangement.

Special Areas of Conservation

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Whitty on 29 November (WA 134), whether, with regard to the European Commission's request to submit additional sites as potential Special Areas of Conservation or Special Protection Areas, the Commission acted in accordance with Article 5 of the Treaty Establishing the European Community and in particular with respect to the Xscale and effect" of the proposal.[HL43]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The Commission's request for member states to submit additional sites arose in the context of its general duty under Article 211 to ensure that the Treaty and legislation made thereunder is properly applied. Article 5 of the Treaty is not relevant in these circumstances.

King's Road, London: Accidents

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What reported accidents have occurred on King's Road, London SW3, SW6 and SW10 in the last three years.[HL38]

Lord Whitty: The number of reported accidents occurring on Kings Road, London SW3, SW6 and SW10 in the last three years were the following:

YearFatalSeriousSlightAll
199701699115
199802088108
1999019104123
Total055291346

Wandsworth Bridge Road, London: Accidents

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What reported accidents have occurred on Wandsworth Bridge Road, London SW6 in the last three years.[HL39]

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Lord Whitty: The number of reported accidents occurring on Wandsworth Bridge Road in the last three years that data are available for were the following:

YearFatalSeriousSlightAll
1997162936
1998042630
1999052227
Total1157793

Advertisements on Agricultural and Siting Control

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy on the siting of advertising billboards on agricultural land which is outside conservation areas.[HL76]

Lord Whitty: The siting of all outdoor advertisements in England is controlled by the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992. Where agricultural land is included in Areas of Special Control of Advertisements (ASCAs) large advertisement hoardings are prohibited. In areas outside ASCAs, express consent to display a billboard is required from the local planning authority. In considering applications, authorities will need to have regard to government policy set out in Planning Policy Guidance 19 (Outdoor Advertisement Control). This says that Xposter advertising is out of place in the open countryside and should not normally be allowed". Responsibiltiy for these matters in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland rests with the devolved administrations.

C5 Disinfectant Combined with Diazinon: Research

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there have been any studies conducted or commissioned by the Health and Safety Executive prior to 1993 into the effects of combining CS disinfectant with diazinon; and, if so, whether they will place a copy of the results in the Library of the House. [HL94]

Lord Whitty: The Health and Safety Executive has no record of having conducted or commissioned any studies, prior to 1993, into the effects of combining CS disinfectant with diazinon.

Stafford Derailment, 19 October: Line Closures

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why, following the derailment on the West Coast Main Line at Stafford on the afternoon of

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    20 October, the police closed the unobstructed and undamaged fast lines for seven hours.[HL50]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The 16.57 Birmingham to Manchester train derailed at Stafford at 17.53 hours on 19 October. The derailment occurred within 5 yards of the main line to London and for safety reasons Railtrack stopped the main line services. As no passengers were injured it was agreed by the Staffordshire Fire Brigade, the British Transport Police (BTP) and the Rail Incident Officer present that they would remain on the train until road coaches arrived. They would then disembark in a safe and staged manner.

The evacuation commenced at 19.27, but the restricted access to the site meant that this was a long process. At 20.20, the BTP and the Rail Incident Officer agreed that trains on the main line could be run at caution once all passengers had been evacuated. Trains began running at approximately 21.30, some 4- hours after the derailment.

Eurostar Class 92 Locomotives: Sale

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they plan to take to ensure that the Class 92 electric locomotives recently offered for sale by Eurostar remain available for Channel Tunnel services.[HL51]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The Class 92 locomotives in question were originally intended to be used for the European Sleeper services through the Channel Tunnel. In the event these services were not commercially viable and Eurostar (UK) Ltd has had no use for these assets ever since, and I therefore consented to their sale.

Although ultimately the final purchaser of these locomotives is a decision for Eurostar, I understand that these locomotives, having been designed specifically for use through the Channel Tunnel, are very powerful. They are, therefore, particularly suitable for freight use and for use in the Channel Tunnel.


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