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Mr. Hill: The spending plans set out in our 10-year plan, together with the post-Hatfield re-railing programme, should mean that there is no shortage of demand for rail. Procurement decisions are commercial matters for Railtrack.
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: We set out in the Housing Green Paper, "Quality and choice: a decent home for all", a proposal to introduce licensing of the whole private rented sector in limited areas of low demand for housing in England. Following a positive response, we intend to consult further later this year.
22. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received on the locating of park and ride schemes on green belt sites; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: Revised policy in respect of proposals to locate park and ride schemes on green belt sites is set out at paragraph 62 and at Annexe E to Planning Policy Guidance Note 13: "Transport", which was issued on 27 March. It provides that, in some circumstances, park and ride schemes may be permissible in the green belt where assessment shows such locations to be the most sustainable of the available options. A draft of PPG13 was issued for consultation in October 1999 and the majority of respondents commenting on the proposed changes were supportive.
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23. Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the Environment Agency's priorities for the disposal of foot and mouth infected carcases. 
Mr. Meacher: It is essential that appropriate use is made of all the available options to dispose of the substantial number of carcases from the current epidemic. The priority in each case is to prevent the spread of the disease and to minimise the risk to public health and the environment. In broad terms, the preferred hierarchy of disposal options is rendering for all carcases; incineration in authorised facilities for all carcases; disposal in licensed landfill sites for sheep, pigs and, with the agreement of the licence holder, cattle born after 1 August 1996; burning for all carcases; and burial of sheep, pigs and cattle born after 1 August 1996.
Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what account he took of the need to minimise the possibility of spreading foot and mouth disease in deciding to authorise two sites in west Sussex for disposal of animals culled as part of the exercise to control that disease. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 23 April 2001]: The Environment Agency has identified a number of licensed landfill sites which are suitable for the disposal of animal carcases. The carcases consigned to these sites are those which MAFF authorise for disposal under Article 5(2) of the Animal By-Products Order 1999. The objective of the authorities responsible for the disposal arrangements is to ensure that carcases are transported for disposal (a) within infected areas or (b) within non-infected areas--but not from one area to another unless necessitated by factors such as the location of abattoirs or landfills.
I understand that landfill sites at Small Dole and Warnham in west Sussex have been identified by the Environment Agency as suitable for carcase disposal but, in the event of their being used, only carcases from the local area will be consigned to them. Any such disposal of carcases will be carried out on the basis of a Best Practice Document (the Protocol) agreed between the Environment Agency, MAFF and the Environmental Services Association (ESA). A copy has been placed in the Library and is available on the Agency's website: http:// www.environment-agency.gov.uk/envinfo/fmd/protocol.pdf.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if the owners of holiday units available to rent will be eligible for rate relief under the Government's measures to help businesses affected by foot and mouth disease. 
Mr. Meacher: Owners of any business paying rates, including holiday units available to rent, are able to apply for hardship rate relief. A hardship rate relief scheme, where local authorities are able to grant discretionary rate relief of up to 100 per cent. to any business suffering hardship, can be made available by any authority. However as a consequence of the current foot and mouth disease outbreak, we have now extended the central Government contribution to the cost of the relief from 75 per cent. to 95 per cent, in cases where the business is located in one of the 151 eligible rural districts and has a
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rateable value of £12,000 or less. This higher rate of support is available initially for three months to 30 June 2001.
Mr. Opik: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to visit Montgomeryshire to discuss the effects of the foot and mouth outbreak with local business people. 
Mr. Meacher: I have no plans to visit Montgomeryshire. The National Assembly and the Wales Office are represented on the Rural Taskforce and the National Assembly is leading on monitoring the impact of foot and mouth disease and action to alleviate it in Wales.
Mr. Opik: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) how much trade has been lost, in total, by individuals and organisations as a result of foot and mouth disease; and if he will make a statement; 
Mr. Meacher: It is clear that the crisis has adversely affected many organisations and individuals and we have already announced a number of measures to alleviate their difficulties. We do not at present have comprehensive information about the scale and scope of the impact on individuals and organisations, the losses they have sustained and the number of businesses which may have to close directly as a result of foot and mouth disease, although we have been actively seeking it. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has, however, estimated that the cost to the English tourism is currently around £140 million per week.
Mr. Opik: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what consultations he has had with Mid-Wales farmers and businesses regarding the degree of compensation required to support the region without business closures during the foot and mouth outbreak; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: The National Assembly for Wales is leading on monitoring the impact of foot and mouth disease and action to alleviate it in Wales. Farmers and businesses in Wales also benefit from UK-wide initiatives such as measures allowing the deferment of tax and National Insurance contributions and the extension to the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme. In addition the National Assembly and the Wales Office are represented on the Rural Taskforce.
Mr. Opik: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what discussions he has had with insurance companies to ensure fast payment of claims arising as a direct result of the foot and mouth outbreak; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. Opik: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what action he has taken to provide information on a daily basis to individuals and firms who are not farmers but whose livelihoods are directly affected by the foot and mouth infection; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: Information is being provided daily through Government websites such as the National Co-ordination Centre website at www.co-ordination.uk together with those at my Department, the Countryside Agency, DCMS, MAFF, DfEE and DSS.
In addition information for small firms is available through the Small Business Service (SBS) and the network of Business Links, and a rural helpline--0845 600 9006--is operational. The Government have issued a number of newspaper advertisements and radio fillers and has leafleted Post Offices, tourist offices and many major visitor attractions.
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to promote the reopening of wildlife parks which have been closed as a result of the foot and mouth outbreak. 
Mr. Meacher: The Government have taken every opportunity to make clear that the countryside is open for business. A list of those zoos and wildlife parks that are open to the public has been posted on the DETR website, which is updated weekly. The address is www.wildlife- countryside.detr.gov.uk/ruraltf/zoos/index.htm. MAFF have provided advice to zoos on the precautions to be taken to reduce the risk of susceptible animals catching the disease, details of which can be found at www.maff.gov.uk/animalh/ diseases/fmd/animals.htm. Members of the public can also contact a telephone hotline (08456 071071) to discover what attractions are open or visit the open Britain website (www.openbritain.gov.uk). Finally, an extra £6 million has been made available to promote tourist attractions, which will include zoos and wildlife parks.
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if wildlife parks are eligible to claim for the foot and mouth preliminary financial compensation package, as announced by the Minister for the Environment on 20 March 2001, Official Report, columns 191-210. 
Mr. Meacher: Wildlife parks, like other businesses affected by foot and mouth disease, may apply for assistance under the measures to help rural businesses that I announced on 20 March and subsequently, and for the extended Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme announced on 6 April, where they meet the qualifying criteria.
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