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Culture Online

Lord Gordon of Strathblane asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Culture Online is a new project, led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which aims to use new technology to increase access to and participation in the arts and culture. Digital technologies B including, but not limited to, the Internet, give us the opportunity to present cultural resources and activities in different formats and allow people to use and add to them in new and exciting ways. Projects involving interactive games, audio and video footage, and digital cameras and editing software and tools can improve the quality of education and bring in new users.

Culture Online is commissioning digital educational materials from cultural and new media organisations. We are about to commission the first seven projects

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(details of which will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses). They involve a range of organisations including local and regional museums and theatres, the V&A, Kew Gardens and the National Theatre. Just over a half of all projects will be aimed at school age children. The rest will be aimed at adult learners, particularly those who may not traditionally have been involved in the arts and culture. The first projects will start in November and will be accessible by the public next year. Projects will be available through participating organisations' websites, the Culture Online website ( and the DfES Curriculum Online portal.

Countryside Agency: Access Rights and Maps

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Countryside Agency has been required to maintain records of objections to access rights and to definitive maps used in determining those access rights; and, if so, when they will report on any anomalies in the definitive maps which, taken together, may require a change in the legislation to allow corrections to be made.[HL4862]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The Countryside Agency is required under the Access to the Countryside (Provisional and Conclusive Maps) (England) Regulations 2002 to keep a record of the names and addresses of any person who has made representations to them about the draft maps of open country and registered common land issued by the agency under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Following the issue of a provisional map, the agency will publish on its website a consultation report which will detail the general issues highlighted during the public consultation exercise. The report will also include information on the amount of land which has either been added or removed from the draft map as a result of the representations received.

The agency does have some limited powers to correct any errors to the provisional and conclusive maps of open country and registered common land under the Access to the Countryside (Correction of Provisional and Conclusive Maps) (England) Regulations 2003. In addition a review of a conclusive map will be carried out within 10 years of the map being issued.Rebo

Bovine TB Testing

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 3 June (WA 151), whether the 4,500 overdue herd tests have been carried out; and what is the current backlog on tuberculosis testing (excluding any carry forward from those 4,500)[HL4864]

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Lord Whitty: Data extracted from the State Veterinary Service (SVS) database show that, on 31 August 2003, the overall number of overdue tests stood at 3,134, down almost 200 tests from 31 July 2003. The current number of overdue TB tests is below the level prior the onset of the foot and mouth disease outbreak of 2001.

Almost 30 per cent. of these 3,134 tests have been overdue less than one month. the nature of TB testing is such that most TB tests are completed on or shortly after their due date. Delays in the submission of test results from veterinary practices can result in those tests appearing as outstanding on the date that the statistics were compiled, even if the herds in question had already been tested.

Another 12 per cent. of these tests have been overdue by six months or more. All those herds have been under movement restrictions at least since last April. Despite the gradual reduction in the number of overdue TB tests there is no room for complacency. With effect from 1 October, and on the first working day of each month thereafter, the SVS is placing under restriction any herds in which a TB test becomes overdue by more than three months.

Traffic Regulation Orders

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the answer by the Lord Whitty on 14 October (HL Deb, col. 764) on a traffic regulation order, for how long can an "extended period" run.[HL4879]

Lord Whitty: A traffic regulation order made under Section 22B of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, as introduced by the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, can apply for as long a period as the Secretary of State decides to specify in the order.

Motorists: VED Evasion and Non-insurance

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they propose to bring forward measures to deal with the problems of evasion of Vehicle Excise Duty and the non-insurance of motor vehicles. [HL4747]

Lord Davies of Oldham: 1. VED Evasion: Draft regulations introducing a regime of "continuous registration" under powers taken under the Finance Act 2002 Budget were laid before Parliament on 15 October. Subject to the approval of Parliament, they come into force on 30 November 2003.

The effect of the regulations is that in the event of a vehicle keeper failing to relicence their vehicle by the due date they will be liable to an £80 fixed penalty reducing to £40 if paid within 28 days.

The fundamental change from the present position is that action may now be taken in respect of unlicensed vehicles on the face of the vehicle

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registration records held by the DVLA. Thus it will no longer be necessary as at present, for the vehicle to be seen on the road in order for action to be taken. Stronger penalties may result where the vehicle continues to be unlicensed.

These measures should ensure that there is a greater incentive for motorists to renew their tax discs by the due date and to inform DVLA when a vehicle changes hands. There will be a major publicity campaign to explain these measures to motorists starting in January 2004.

2. Insurance: The Government announced, on 21 August, the appointment of Professor David Greenaway to carry out an independent review of the UK motor insurance system. The review is expected to

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report next April and has a particular focus on changes that might help reduce levels of uninsured driving.

Network Rail

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Network Rail has sufficient engineering and technical capacity to meet its obligations in respect of railway equipment approvals. [HL4835]

Lord Davies of Oldham: Network Rail advises that all safety and business critical railway equipment is subject to a stringent product acceptance process which forms part of its railway safety case. Processing products through this acceptance procedure is prioritised by Network Rail's business need.

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