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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): DVLA maintains a record of vehicle keepers not owners. In addition to the police, the law provides for the agency to disclose vehicle keeper information without charge to local authorities for purposes associated with the investigation of an offence or decriminalised parking contravention and for a fee, currently £2.50, to anyone who can demonstrate "reasonable cause". The term is not defined in law and each request is considered on merit.
Lord Whitty: A proposal for a motorway service area between Junctions 1A and 2 of the M.40, near Hedgerley, is currently the subject of a public inquiry. A decision on whether planning permission should be granted will be a matter for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State in the light of the recommendations of the inquiry Inspector.
Lord Whitty: The London-South West and South Wales Multi-Modal Study will examine the scope for reducing congestion by better management and modal shift, as well as options for taking forward focused improvements, particularly on the A.303. There are no preconceived ideas. It would not therefore be appropriate to include a specific remit to focus on a particular section of the corridor. However, the study will need to recognise that the A.303 improvement at Stonehenge is in the Targeted Programme of Improvements, that preparatory work on it will continue simultaneously with the study and that there will be a need for close co-ordination between the two processes. Traffic forecasts for the study area and work on the development of multi-modal solutions will recognise this commitment.
The study is not expected to consider alternatives for the Stonehenge scheme but it should be possible, as a sensitivity test, to assess the extent to which traffic forecasts in the study area will alter, should the scheme not go ahead.
Lord Whitty: The department has now reached agreement with the Scottish Executive on the terms of a concordat between them. This will be published on 11 November, when copies will be placed in the House Library. The concordat will also be made available on the department's website.
Lord Whitty: The Government's policy on land use planning in rural areas is set out in Planning Policy Guidance note (PPG) 7. This states that new house building in the open countryside requires special justification--for example, where it is to enable farm workers to live at or near their place of work. In considering a planning application for a dwelling in the countryside, a local planning authority will need to establish whether it is essential for the proper functioning of the enterprise concerned for one or more persons to be readily available at most times, and the extent to which such matters as protection of livestock from theft or injury may contribute to the need for the dwelling.
Lord Whitty: On Friday 5 November, my right honourable friend the Minister for the Environment announced a renewed agreement with industry on the conduct of the farm-scale evaluations of GM crops over the next three years (news release 1057, 5 November 1999). During that time, there will be no general unrestricted cultivation of GM crops in the UK, and no direct commercial benefits to the consent holders will arise from the farm scale evaluations. The agenda for the 13-14 December meeting of the Environment Council is not yet available, so we do not know if there will be any vote on this subject.
Lord Whitty: The condition of the underpass is a matter for the highway authority, the Corporation of London. The underpass is cleaned quarterly and a clean is due before Christmas this year. There are also plans to paint Blackfriars Bridge which crosses above the underpass.
Lord Whitty: The Government welcome the report of the Liverpool Democracy Commission, including the recommendation that Liverpool should have a directly elected mayor, and congratulate Liverpool on this exercise of listening to local people.
Legislation, which has already been passed to end crude universal capping and bring in best value, and forthcoming legislation to modernise political management structures, including allowing directly elected mayors, will help to facilitate the implementation of many of the report's recommendations.
The Government are presently looking for a commitment by the military authorities to transparent , accountable rule by a democratic civilian government, which will include action to combat corruption, in addition to economic reform and poverty reduction. We are monitoring developments closely and, if and when appropriate, we will consider any requests to assist this process.
Baroness Amos: Over 100,000 houses in Kosovo suffered damage in the conflict, of which half are beyond repair. This affects over 700,000 people. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are distributing emergency repair kits and roofing repair kits in order to create dry shelter in repairable houses, on the basis of one room per family. UNHCR is also identifying up to 20,000 places in community shelter. Forty thousand families are expected to host displaced people. Winterised tents are being distributed as a stop-gap measure, together with stoves and firewood.
We are supporting emergency rehabilitation to restore essential community and public infrastructure, particularly power and water supplies. We have also committed £3 million for emergency work on Pristina airport to keep essential supplies coming into Kosovo and enable 24-hour civil air access during the winter months.
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