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Lord Williams of Mostyn: The criteria used in the appointment of the police ombudsman were as detailed in the application form: legal skills; leadership/strategic planning; developing and maintaining networks; judgment and decision-making and public relations.
Why no effort is made to separate torch and other small appliance batteries from other waste and to encourage either recycling or safe disposal. [HL3088]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Government take the view that the environmental impact caused by the disposal of consumer batteries is largely attenuated by their burial as a very small element of landfilled household waste. Most studies of household waste in the UK have found the level of consumer batteries in the household waste-stream to be less than 0.1 per cent. The levels of heavy metals classified as special or hazardous waste is very low in most consumer batteries. It is an EU requirement for the level of mercury contained in the type of batteries used in torches must not exceed 0.0005 per cent.
The Government welcome the European Commission intention to propose a new EU directive aimed at promoting greater recycling of consumer batteries later this year, but an analysis of the likely environmental impact and costs of an early draft commissioned by my department demonstrates that the environmental costs of small batteries collection can sometimes outweigh the benefits of material reclamation. lynne
The Minister of State, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): I refer the noble Lord to the statement made by the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions on Monday 25 February. Copies are available in the Libraries of both Houses.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: It is for local authorities to decide the level of their council tax taking into account the level of services they wish to provide, their statutory responsibilities and the wishes of their electorate. We have provided local government overall with significant increases in funding in 200203. General grant to local authorities will increase by 5 per cent or £1.9 billion. The increases in grant have enabled the Government to set a floor for councils with education and social service responsibilities which guarantees an increase in general grant of at least 4 per cent. Lancashire County Council benefits from the floor and will receive an increase in the coming financial year of £26.673 million.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: A single sector covering the North Sea area had to be closed in the early hours of two weekend nights covering 23 and 24 February due to an exceptional shortage of suitably qualified air traffic services assistants. Only 14 aircraft were re-routed each night around the sector as a result and no delays were incurred.
The Government are assured that National Air Traffic Services Limited is pursuing its training programme for air traffic services assistants at the Swanwick centre to ensure that there is no repetition of the sector closure experienced on 23 and 24 February 2002. lynne
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: One hundred and sixty-two air shows were licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in England and Wales during 2001. Permission to hold an air display in the UK must be obtained from the CAA but will be granted only after the size of the proposed display and the suitability of the location has been assessed. The CAA publishes mandatory safety guidance for air display organisers covering all aspects of air display safety, including how close to the crowd aircraft may be displayed.
The Minister of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, Lord Falconer, has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Highways Agency's plans to improve the A570 link between Ormskirk and Southport.
As you may be aware, the Government's intention to transfer to Local Highway Authorities responsibility for around 40 per cent. of the then trunk road network (a process known as de-trunking) was announced in 'A new Deal for Trunk Roads in England' in July 1998. The aim was to get decisions on these roads taken at the level at which the relevant factors were best understood so that their management and improvement could be fully integrated with land use planning and local transport plans.
The A570 was one of the roads identified for detrunking. Our intention is to transfer responsibility for it to the local highway authorities, Lancashire County Council and Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council, in April 2003. The necessary De-trunking Orders have been published and we are meeting the local authorities to discuss their concerns about the proposals.
In the run-up to de-trunking, we will be implementing a safety scheme to create a one-way gyratory system around the St Helens Road Park, signalise the junction and improve pedestrian facilities in the next financial year.
If you would like any further information about this please contact the Agency's Route Manager for the A570, Ziad El-balbisi, at Sunley Tower, Piccadilly Plaza, Manchester M1 4BE (telephone 0161 930 5822). lynne
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The information requested is not collected centrally. Only the individual local authorities responsible for the management and investment of pension funds within the framework of the Local Government Pension Scheme could provide the figures.
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