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The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, I thank the Minister for giving such a detailed explanation of the two orders. I was particularly interested in that relating to the creation of renewable energy. Are the Government expecting Scotland to produce more or less than 10 per cent of renewables by 2010?
Furthermore, I was interested to hear the Minister say that the certificates will be "tradable" across the Border. Does that mean that the target in England and Wales will be adjusted to take up the balance of the variation introduced by the Scots?
The Earl of Northesk: My Lords, I, too, thank the Minister for his explanation of the orders. Like the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, we are content to welcome and endorse their purpose, the more so because it has been made clear that the intention is to deliver uniformity of the competition regime, particularly in the context of the second order.
Also like the noble Earl, we applaud the practice of making the Executive Notes available to the House. I cannot help feeling that it would be advantageous if the practice could be extended. My noble friend the Duke of Montrose has far more expertise and experience in these matters than I and I look forward to the Minister's clarifications of the point he raised.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken in this brief debate. I acknowledge immediately that the Executive Notes provided to the Scottish Parliament have set a high standard which it should be incumbent on us to match in this Parliament. It is fair to say that the Explanatory Notes to legislation which are available in this country have been greatly improved in the past five years. It has become the practice--and it was confirmed by the report of the Offices Committee which was agreed by the House today--that according to the procedures of the House the Explanatory Notes should be made available with the Bill. However, it is true that we have a way to go and that the Executive Notes which are provided in Edinburgh should be an example to us all.
It will be agreed by all noble Lords who have spoken that the last thing I should be doing in responding to a debate on the orders is talking about energy or transport policy. Such matters are for the Scottish Parliament and the two orders facilitate that either
The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, I was asking merely whether the Government envisaged that they would be able to adjust their policies in England and Wales to balance whatever happens in Scotland.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in the absence of my noble friend Lord Whitty, I beg to move that the Home-Grown Cereals Authority Levy (Variation) Scheme (Approval) Order 2001 laid before the House on 20th June 2001 be approved. The purpose of this order is to make one small but significant change to the 1987 Home-Grown Cereals Authority Levy Scheme which sets the conditions under which the authority may raise levies from cereal growers, dealers and processors in order to fund its activities.
I should perhaps stress at the outset that this change is made at the request of the HGCA and reflects discussions which it has had with the various stakeholders concerned. Government have also carried out a consultation exercise on the change as required by the Act.
The Home-Grown Cereals Authority is a public body set up under the Cereals Marketing Act 1965. The order before us today amends the levy scheme; that is, the arrangements under which the authority collects the levy on cereals. Except where grain is sold directly into intervention, the first purchaser of the cereals collects the levy from cereal growers on behalf of the authority. The first purchaser, or dealer, pays the grower levy over to the authority together with the levy payable by the dealer on the transaction. This method of levy collection is both cheaper and more efficient than the alternative of requiring direct payments to the authority from 60,000 or so UK cereals growers. It means that more of the levy collected can be used to fund the authority's activities and less on administration.
Dealers are permitted to make a deduction from the gross amount of levy collected before passing the balance to the authority. This deduction--a kind of commission--provides dealers with some measure of recompense for the costs incurred in collecting the grower levy on behalf of the authority. The only change being made by the order before us today is to increase to 5 per cent from 3.7 per cent the deduction which dealers may make from the gross levy collected.
The increase is a result of an agreement between the different sectors of the industry that will, we believe, benefit all levy payers. It will benefit the dealers, obviously, because they will receive an enhanced contribution towards their levy collection costs. Other sectors of the industry will benefit as the agreement paves the way for them to have access to other funds. The order will come into force on 1st August 2001 in time for the first tranche of levy collection in the new cereals marketing year that started on 1st July 2001.
I have already explained that the legislation requires consultation. That consultation has been carried out and the results have been placed in the Library, along with a regulatory impact assessment in the usual way. I commend the order to the House.
Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, the Minister said there was consultation among dealers, farmers and so on of home-grown cereals. Was there unanimous agreement on this matter? I believe that, at a time when farmers are under an enormous amount of pressure, to increase the levy is yet another nail in their financial coffin. Although the main reason for the authority is to improve the production and marketing of UK cereals, one wonders whether it is essential that the level should be increased at this stage.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, the HGCA requested the change to the dealer percentage following approval by the board and a review by UKASTA, the dealers' representative body. The change has the immediate effect of saving money which would otherwise have been lost under the old
Lord Glentoran: My Lords, I have heard the answer to my noble friend's question and read the Hansard report from another place. Furthermore, the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, spoke to me in the corridor. The noble Lord assured me that there was nothing to worry about with the order. Of course I did not believe a word. I immediately went back to check Hansard. However, I am delighted to be able to tell the House that having read the contribution of my honourable friend James Paice, we, on these Benches, are totally happy and I am delighted that the noble Lord put me on the right lines.
The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, these draft regulations are intended to increase the fee payable to local planning authorities for applications for prior approval for telecommunications developments. Perhaps it will help if I summarise the current position and identify why we are recommending this increase.
The Government's general policy in telecommunications development is to encourage and facilitate the roll-out of a modern national telecommunications network while protecting the environment. We want to ensure that the public is able to enjoy the benefits that come from a greater choice of service providers and a broader range of services. The drive to develop the telecoms network with its attendant base stations, masts and antennae must, nevertheless, be balanced with the Government's commitment to the achievement of environmental objectives.
The Government attach great importance to keeping to a minimum the level of environmental intrusion caused by telecoms network development. The land use planning system provides the tool for striking the necessary balance. At present, the general planning arrangements mean that an application for planning permission is required for larger telecoms developments, such as masts over 15 metres high and for any mast development in key environmentally sensitive areas, such as national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, conservation areas and sites of special scientific interest.
With regard to the arrangement to distinguish between ground-based masts on the one hand, and those on buildings and other structures on the other, authorities have longer to consider the former: 42 as against 28 days.
In 1999, in response to growing public concern about the possible health implications of mobile phone masts, the Government asked their statutory advisor, the National Radiological Protection Board, to set up the independent expert group on mobile phones. The group, under the chairmanship of Sir William Stewart, considered concerns about health effects from the use of mobile phones, base stations and transmitters. It conducted a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of existing research and gathered a wide range of views. The group published its report on 11th May 2000. The Stewart group concluded that,
For those reasons, the group recommended that changes to the planning arrangements were necessary. Last summer my department consulted on possible changes to the planning rules in respect of telecommunications development in the light of the recommendations set out in the Stewart report. Following that consultation, on 16th March of this year the then Minister for Housing, Planning and Construction, Nick Raynsford, announced a series of important changes to the planning system on the siting of mobile phone masts. He announced that the Government would bring forward changes to the current Planning Rules and Guidance for Telecommunications Development Order in order to strengthen public consultation requirements on telecommunications proposals which require an
They will increase the time for an authority to deal with prior approval applications to 56 days; underline that school governors must be consulted on all proposals for new masts on or near a school or college; extend the prior approval arrangements to cover antennae on roofs where the height of an antenna would exceed four metres; and increase fees to enable authorities to carry out full public consultation.
In recognition of the extra demands which improved consultation will make on authorities, the draft fees regulation will increase the fee payable by developers for prior approval applications in respect of telecommunications development from £35 to £190. The five mobile phone operators to whom this fee increase will be most significant recommended in their response to our consultation last year that the fees should be increased by this amount in order to ensure that the local planning authorities had sufficient resources to deal with the additional consultation arrangements. The sum of £190 is the normal fee payable for an application for planning permission for a mast over 50 metres in height. Since local planning authorities will need to carry out the same public consultation for telecommunications development under the prior approval procedure as they would had they received an application for planning permission, they clearly require a comparable fee. I commend the regulations to the House. I beg to move.
Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 3rd July be approved [First Report from the Joint Committee].--(Lord Falconer of Thoroton.)
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