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Mr. Hill [holding answer 31 October 2000]: These matters are kept under constant review. The benefits of any changes to medical requirements would be assessed in the context of overall mobility and safety benefits for older people and other road users.
We have commissioned research from Manchester University into the driving behaviour of older people. The project is due to be completed by the end of November and a report will be published in due course.
Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many staff were employed by Salisbury District Council in (a) 1998, (b) 1999 and (c) on 1 October 2000. 
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|12 June 1998||9 June 2000|
|Estimated whole-time equivalents||518||451|
Joint Staffing Watch (1998), Employers' Organisation (2000).
Angela Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he has received Road Traffic Reduction Act reports from local traffic authorities as required by the Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997. 
Mr. Hill: I have received reports under the Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997 from local traffic authorities in England, as required under the Act. Copies of the reports have been laid before the Parliament and placed in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the recommended level is of reserves required to be held by a parish council; and if he will make a statement. 
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) published non-statutory guidance on standards of financial reporting for parish councils following the laying of the Accounts and Audit Regulations 1996.
The CIPFA guidance does not make recommendations on levels of reserves either, but does set out reporting requirements and guidance relating to reserves for small (budgeted annual income of less than £5,000), medium-sized (£5,000-£500,000) and large (£500,000 plus) parish councils.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he has received the return from Ross-on-Wye Town Council on the finances of the council; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. Hill: The A303 Chicklade Bottom-Mere Improvement is one of the schemes currently being considered under the London to South West and South Wales Multi-Modal Study. The outcome of the study will inform the Regional Planning Body's consideration of transport infrastructure requirements in preparing a review of the Regional Transport Strategy, currently contained in emerging Regional Planning Guidance for the South West, including the need for improvements to the trunk road network. I expect the study to report towards the end of next year.
Mr. Meacher: I will publish a draft Water Bill for public consultation on Monday 6 November. The draft Bill will have three main elements: first, it will contain provisions to improve the management of water through reforms to the abstraction licensing system and by promoting greater water conservation by water companies; second, it will re-introduce the regulatory reform provisions for water that were removed from the Utilities Bill in March 2000. These clauses have been updated since then, mainly to reflect any relevant amendments made to the equivalent energy provisions now in the Utilities Act 2000. The overall aim is to put the consumer at the heart of the regulatory process and to make regulation more open and accountable; and third, the draft Bill will contain a number of other useful but minor improvements to the regulatory systems for water and reservoir safety.
The draft Bill includes provisions to increase the maximum penalty for abstraction and impounding offences and for supplying water unfit for human consumption from £5,000 to £20,000. This reflects the importance the Government attaches to ensuring appropriate fines for water offences. Unlimited fines are available in the crown courts.
The draft Bill will also give new powers to the regulators to fine water companies up to 10 per cent. of their turnover for breaches of their conditions of appointment, or for failure to achieve prescribed standards of performance.
We are also consulting on measures to ensure that customers have easy access to reliable comparative information on water company performance. We are working with the water industry with the aim of developing a pilot scheme. We are also consulting when we publish the draft water bill on introducing any necessary legislation to require companies to provide comparative performance information to customers.
Copies of the draft Bill and covering consultation paper, and an accompanying publication setting out the Government's Regulatory Impact Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment and a Policy Appraisal for Equal Treatment will be laid before the House at 11am on Monday 6 November.
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Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many Departments produced risk management frameworks relating to their Statement of Internal Control by September; and if she will place copies in the Library. 
Mr. Stringer: Departments and public bodies will be required to produce Statements of Internal Control from the financial years 2001-02 onwards. The first Statements will be published in 2002. As a separate exercise, Departments and Agencies that are responsible for managing significant risks faced by the public are drawing up and publishing the framework and procedures they use for reaching decisions on the risks for which they are responsible. Copies of these will be placed in the Library. As of 31 October, risk frameworks had been published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Ministry of Defence, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the Environment Agency, the Department for Education and Employment, the Food Standards Agency, the Department of Health, the Health and Safety Executive, the Inland Revenue and the Office for National Statistics.
Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what recent studies her Department has undertaken on the economic and financial effects of pharmacy (a) licence regulation and (b) planning permission. 
Mr. Stringer: The Performance and Innovation Unit of the Cabinet Office published in December 1999 a project on rural economies, which discussed the implications of planning policy for rural economies. Additionally, the independent Better Regulation Task Force, for which I am sponsor Minister, published in June 2000 a case study of increasing regulation in the hotel and restaurant industry. Among other things, it looked at whether there were any barriers in the planning system to the productivity of this sector.
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