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The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Ministry of Defence maintains a register of all defence driving instructors. Registration lasts for an initial period of four years and can then be extended by four-year periods provided that the criteria for re-registration have been met.
The number of valid instructors shown on the defence driving instructor register is 1,790 (including 295 civil servants). Records are kept centrally only for the last six years. The number of personnel recorded as previously qualified but no longer current is 833.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Department of Health has given advice and guidance to those health authorities to whom asylum seekers have been dispersed on the additional resource implications their presence will make. The department also liaises regularly with the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) of the Home Office, which is responsible for the dispersal, accommodation and support of destitute asylum seekers.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: This ruling is a disappointment but it will not deflect us from our commitment to ban tobacco advertising. We said at the time of the Advocate General's opinion in June that we would consider primary legislation to ban tobacco advertising and that is what we are doing.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Government strongly believe people should have the right to choose whether or not they are exposed to tobacco smoke. That is why the Government have supported the licensed hospitality trade's Public Places Charter, which aims to increase the provision of non-smoking facilities in pubs, hotels and restaurants. The Government are also reviewing smoking policies in their own departments. The Health and Safety Commission has now recommended the introduction of an approved code of practice on smoking in the workplace and the Government are considering the commission's advice.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Department of Health has asked the Medical Research Council to draw upon the expertise available to it and explore how, in the light of the systematic review, any further research could most productively be focused in order to strengthen the knowledge base concerning water fluoridation and its effects on health.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Dental fluorosis is a mottling of the teeth, which only in its more extreme forms will leave some people concerned about the appearance of their teeth. Even then the teeth are still endowed with extra resistance to decay and the effect can be removed by routine dental treatment. The presence of dental fluorosis in an individual does not imply that fluoride has had any other adverse effect in that individual. The numerous studies of the effects of fluoride and of fluoridation of water supplies have not demonstrated that drinking water containing fluoride at 1 part per million has any significant effect, beneficial or adverse, other than on teeth. The findings of the Centre for Research and Dissemination systematic review are consistent with this view.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): Nearly 100 Sure Start programmes have now been approved. All include representatives of health organisations in their partnerships. Health visitors have played a crucial role in developing local Sure Start plans, particularly in their work with local people and their experience with young children and parents.
The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): From 1 February next year, it is intended that it will be permissible to run six-axled articulated vehicles at a maximum weight of 44 tonnes in general haulage, in comparison with the current maximum of 41 tonnes. The Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rate for 44-tonne vehicles will be £2,950, compared with £2,500 for 41-tonne vehicles on six axles. Allowing for the differences in payload, VED rate and fuel costs, we estimate that unit costs expressed in pence per capacity tonne kilometres will be broadly the same for the two types of vehicle.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): Information about when all these lanes have been open during the last three years is not available. I understand that all lanes on the bridge and the adjacent roads should be open to normal traffic by Christmas.
The works on the north side of the bridge on behalf of the Parliamentary Works Directorate should be completed by the end of October or the beginning of November and the works to the south of the bridge should be completed by Christmas.
Lord Whitty: Today we have published the final version of PPG11 Regional Planning. The new regional planning arrangements we announced in draft last year have been seen to work well in practice and have been widely welcomed. Our new guidance contrasts with previous practices where Whitehall produced draft regional planning guidance with decisions being taken behind closed doors. Under our new arrangements it is the regions that produce the drafts. There is then open public debate at a public
Fundamental to the new arrangements is that these strategies should be produced on an inclusive basis to promote regional ownership. The regional planning bodies need to work with a wide range of stakeholders in accordance with a streamlined and publicly accountable timetable.
The new strategies should integrate land-use and transport planning. They will provide a long-term regional planning framework for the preparation of structure plans, unitary development plans and local transport plans. They will also inform other strategies and programmes, including the RDA regional economic strategies.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Responsibility for the subject of this Question has been delegated to the Royal Parks Agency under its Chief Executive, William Weston. I have asked the agency to arrange for a reply to be given.
I have been asked by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to reply to your Parliamentary Question about the closure of Birdcage Walk and Horse Guards Road because this is an operational matter for which the Agency is responsible.
Birdcage Walk is closed to traffic, one carriageway at a time, because we are undertaking major repairs and re-surfacing work and introducing safety improvements. Currently it is the eastbound carriageway and the work is also blocking the entrance to Horse Guards Road. The work is being carried out as part of the Agency's ongoing programme of road maintenance and is included in the Agency's corporate plan agreed by the Secretary of State. Before undertaking the works, the proposed closures were discussed with the local authority and the Metropolitan Police and Traffic for London.
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