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The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The Intelligence and Security Committee's Report has today been laid before Parliament. Following consultation over matters which could not be published without prejudice to the continued discharge of the functions of the intelligence and security agencies and in accordance with the Intelligence Services Act 1994, the Confidential Annex has been excluded.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The Statement of Practice sets out a framework to be followed by the public sector organisations to implement the Government's policy on the treatment of staff transfers where the public sector is the employer when contracting out, or the client in a subsequent retendering. It applies directly to all United Kingdom central government departments and agencies and to the NHS but the Government expect other public sector organisations, including local government, to follow it.
The Statement noted that local government was subject to some different considerations, particularly the restrictions in legislation contained in Part I and II of the Local Government Act 1988. However, abolition of CCT from January 2000 and the Local Government, Best Value (Exclusion of Non-commercial Considerations) Order 2001, which came into effect on 13 March 2001, means that best value authorities in England may now consider "workforce matters" and hence adopt the policy set out in the Statement. In doing so, they must have regard to the need to comply with their best value duties.
Lord Whitty: Guidance issued by the Government Actuary in May 1999 indicated that, when it undertakes assessments of broad comparability, only defined benefit schemes will be certified as broadly comparable to defined benefit schemes, and only defined contribution schemes will be certified as broadly comparable to defined contribution schemes. I understand that the same principles normally apply in other actuarial assessment arrangements.
Lord Whitty: The occurrence of a weak "El Nino" in 2002 would have little, if any, effect in the UK or the rest of Europe. Recent strong El Ninos, such as that in 1997-98, had little impact in Europe. There is therefore no need for the Government or the European Union to consider contingency plans, beyond existing plans, which in some cases are already being developed because of recent adverse experiences, such as floods.
In those countries likely to be affected by El Nino, there is now a generally high awareness of its likely impacts and they keep a close watch on its behaviour. Regional Climate Outlook Forums, convened under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organisation, take into account current El Nino predictions and other forecast information (including the Met Office's seasonal predictions) and involve regional end-users who can act on the forecasts and likely impacts.
Lord Whitty: In Transport 2010--The 10 Year Plan, published in July 2000, the Government set the Highways Agency a target to install quieter surfaces on over 60 per cent of the network over the next 10 years. When the A.303 Wincanton Bypass is next due for
Lord Whitty: Surveys of the effectiveness of noise reduction measures are planned to cover projects completed in the next two years and interviews will be completed in the year following. A report analysing the responses and drawing conclusions is expected within 12 months of the final round of interviews. A copy of the report, when available, will be placed in the Library of the House.
Lord Whitty: We are pleased to say that, following discussion with the Trust over the last few months, we have asked the Highways Agency to develop proposals to maintain the existing access to Scotney Castle and remove the severance caused by the bypass. Further development work will now be undertaken leading to the publication of those proposals in the Summer.
Lord Whitty: The regional planning bodies brought forward proposals for 30 schemes which could be separately progressed from the Multi Modal Studies (which are currently looking at solutions to problems within main trunk road corridors). These schemes have been assessed using the New Approach to Appraisal (NATA) and we have arranged for copies of the appraisal summary tables to be placed in the Library. We have also sought the views of the Government's statutory advisers (English Nature, the Countryside Agency, English Heritage and the Environment Agency) on the proposed schemes. Having considered the NATA appraisals and comments from the statutory advisers we have decided to add the following schemes to the targeted programme of improvements:
The Highways Agency will also take forward the following smaller schemes recommended by the regional planning bodies as part of the recent consultation exercise and costing less than £5 million as part of their programme of local network management schemes.
Following completion of our appraisal of the proposed Leeds Supertram system of three light rail lines, we are satisfied that the project passes the tests for government funding to be made available and that it should be taken forward as a single scheme. We have also agreed a funding package with the promoters
Orders have been made under the Transport and Works Act giving powers for the scheme. However, these cannot come into force until a special parliamentary procedure has been completed, because the orders authorise the compulsory purchase of open space for which no land is to be given in exchange. Funding approval is given on the assumption that this process is completed satisfactorily.
Following completion of our appraisal of the South Hampshire Rapid Transit project, we are satisfied that the project passes the tests for government funding to be made available. Subject to the scheme receiving Transport and Works Act (TWA) powers and no material change to the scheme as submitted, we intend to provide funding and have agreed a package with the promoters which would include a local contribution towards scheme costs.
This decision is given solely in respect of the economic appraisal of the scheme as submitted to us and the associated funding arrangements. It does not in any way indicate any view that we may take on the TWA application that is currently being considered on its own merits, having regard to the Inspector's report of the inquiry.
In accordance with the policy set out in my Department's Guidance on Local Transport Plans, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council sought a provisional view on the economic appraisal for the Bristol and South Gloucester Rapid Transit scheme, prior to seeking the necessary powers under the Transport and Works Act (TWA). We are aware that the authorities are continuing to work on some aspects of the proposed scheme. However, we are satisfied that, on the basis of the available information, were the current proposals and their appraisal to be confirmed by the authorities following that further work they would pass our economic appraisal tests for deciding eligibility for funding.
This provisional view is given solely in respect of the economic appraisal, and does not in any way indicate any view that we may take on any subsequent TWA application. Any such application would be determined entirely on its merits in the light of all the relevant considerations, and only after all interested persons had been given a full opportunity to state their views.
Should TWA powers be obtained, final approval of the project for funding would depend both on whether an updated economic appraisal, reflecting any changes to the scheme as a result of the TWA process or any other developments, demonstrates that the project still represents good value for money and on conclusion of a satisfactory agreement on funding.
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