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Game Licences

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The present price of an annual licence to kill game is £6. A period licence to kill game and a gamekeeper's licence each cost £4. A 14-day licence to kill game costs £2. A game dealer's licence costs £4. Those licences may be obtained through any post office. The price of a game licence was last changed in 1968 by a Treasury order which increased the fees set in the Game Licences Act 1860 by 100 per cent.

In the year 2001–02, the total number of game licences issued by post offices in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland was 48,385. The toal gross annual revenue from those licences was £251,884. The total annual cost of administering the scheme for 2001–02 is estimated at £261,900 plus VAT.

In addition to the licences referred to above, district councils and London borough councils issue licences to deal in game. No figures are collected centrally for the numbers of licences issued by councils. We understand that arrangements and charges vary.

Central government do not benefit from the revenue from game licences. The income is received by district councils and London borough councils, in which the duty to issue licences is vested. We acknowledge that the game licensing system is complex and derives from 19th century legislation. The Government are aware of concerns over the operation of the game licensing regime.

Fishing Industry

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Whitty: It is impossible to say what decisions successive UK governments might have taken over the last 20 to 30 years if there had been no common fisheries policy and what impact these decisions would have had. However, we cannot claim that 75 per cent of stocks were our fish. The UK historically only controlled its territorial waters and many UK fishermen took their catches in international waters.

Fallen Stock

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What owners of stock should do with fallen stock when new regulations come into force next year which prohibit them from burying animals which have died.[HL805]

Lord Whitty: The usual routes for disposal of fallen stock are by rendering, incineration or taking to an approved knacker or hunt kennel. These will continue to be permitted when the new EU legislation, the Animal By-Products Regulation, applies in member states from 30 April 2003. The regulation will ban the on-farm burial or burning of animal carcasses. The only exceptions from the ban would be for remote areas (parts of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland) and during outbreaks of notifiable disease if there were a lack of capacity at rendering plants and incinerators or if transport of the carcasses would spread disease.

Under the TSE (England) Regulations 2002 there is a legal obligation to notify the competent authority or their agents of the discovery of all fallen bovines aged over 24 months other than those killed for welfare reasons. The agents in this case are Animal Handling Facilities Ltd (AHF). Once they have been notified of the fallen animal they will arrange for the animal to be collected, sampled and the carcass destroyed free of charge.

Youth Parliament Manifesto

Lord Elton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 19 December (HL404), when they intend to publish their response to the United Kingdom Youth Parliament's Manifesto and Agenda for Action 2002.[HL924]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The CYPU intends to publish the Government's response to the document by late spring 2003. We will send a copy of the response to my noble friend and place copies in the Libraries of the House.

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Spending Review Fixed Assets: Roads and Railways

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In respect of table 4.1 in the 2002 Spending Review—Departmental Investment Strategies: A Summary (Cm 5674), whether roads and railways are included in the asset value of £62,996 million; and, if so, what is the value and basis for valuation of each category.[HL791]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: Table 4.1 of 2002 Spending Review—Departmental Investment Strategies: A Summary (Cm 5674) records the total value of fixed assets owned by each government department as at 31 March 2001. These figures reflect those given in each department's published resource accounts for 2000–01. A figure of £62,996 million is given for the former Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR). This included some £23 million of intangible assets, £61,084 million of tangible assets and £1,890 million of investments.

The tangible assets included £59,773 million as the net book value of the trunk road network. In general terms, roads that are "open for traffic" are valued on the basis of their estimated depreciated replacement cost. Roads (or parts of roads such as additional lanes) that are still under construction are valued on the basis of the capital expenditure incurred to date on their construction. The last full revaluation of the trunk road network was carried out by professional surveyors, as at 31 March 2000. This valuation was carried out mainly using internal unit costing and physical asset records provided by the Highways Agency. Certain large structures, for example the QEII Bridge, and roadside communications were valued at historic cost, appropriately indexed. For other large structures, insurance valuations were used as the best approximation to the replacement cost. The valuations were indexed to 31 March 2001 to reflect changes in the Road Construction Tender Price Index.

Since privatisation, the main railways assets—the infrastructure and rolling stock— have been held in the private sector and therefore did not appear in the figures for tangible assets held by DETR. However, the figure for total investments included a National Loans Fund loan to the British Railways Board of some £481 million. Various minor shareholdings in the form of special shares in rail-related companies are not valued but are noted in view of the insignificant amounts involved. These holdings are listed in Note 12 of the DETR Resource Accounts 2000–01

Goods Operator Licences: Red Diesel Offences

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Traffic Commissioners can properly consider a goods vehicle operator to be of good

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    repute if that operator has been detected using red diesel rather than derv, which attracts a much higher rate of fuel duty.[HL792]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The detection and prosecution of red diesel offences is the responsibility of HM Customs and Excise. If a goods vehicle operator is convicted of such an offence, then the Traffic Commissioner will be informed. Traffic Commissioners can take this information into account in determining whether the operator is of good repute, which is one of the requirements for holding a goods operator's licence.

Connex

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the financial justification for the Strategic Rail Authority giving an extra £58 million of taxpayers' money to Connex to operate its rail franchise next year; and why this franchise was not cancelled and put out to retender, as provided for under Section 30 of the Railways Act 1993, as amended by Section 212 of the Transport Act 2000.[HL824]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) provided Connex with a further £58 million on 11 December 2002 to stabilise the loss-making franchise during 2003 and to allow negotiations to take place to establish an amended agreement for Connex to operate services to the end of 2006. Connex's franchise would then expire and be replaced by an all-Kent franchise, to include high-speed domestic services on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link to London St Pancras, for which the SRA plans to start a competition in 2004. It is the SRA's view that £58 million, as a minimum, would have been payable to any alternative operator in any other scenario.


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