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Nigel Griffiths: Independent reports from the OECD, Anderson growth plus and others show the UK in general to be a less regulated than most International Competitors. Since January 2000, the Government has put in place a number of measures to further reduce the burden of regulation on small businesses. The SmallBusiness Service now scrutinises newly proposed regulations for their likely impact on SMEs and encourages reform and rationalisation of wxisting regulation. It works closely with DTI's Better Regulation Team to help Departments develop alternatives to regulation.
Examples of measures taken include 485,000 businesses had their corporation tax bill cut or abolished through measures announced in Budget 2002, and 700,000 benefited from the flat rate VAT scheme. Overall around 9000,000 SMEs have benefited.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many (a) incidents of dumping of aviation fuel there were and (b) tonnes of aviation fuel were dumped in UK airspace in the last year for which figures are available; 
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(4) whether a pilot dumping aviation fuel is required to report the activity; and what records are maintained of incidents of the dumping of aviation fuel; 
(5) what offence the dumping of aircraft fuel into UK airspace constitutes. 
Mr. Jamieson: Article 56(3)(b) of the Civil Aviation Air Navigation Order 2000 permits the jettisoning, in cases of emergency, of fuel from an aircraft over the UK. Other than in an emergency, jettisoning would constitute an offence liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to £2,500, as provided for in Article 122(5).
As in any emergency, the pilot and the air traffic controller would normally report the circumstances under the Mandatory Occurrence Reporting Scheme. There were 19 such incidents in the UK in 2002. There were 1,666,000 air transport movements in the UK in 2001. Details of the amount of fuel jettisoned are not normally recorded as part of the Scheme, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
As regards fuel loaded onto an aircraft, Article 6 of the Order referred to effectively requires the operator to ensure that the pre-flight calculation of usable fuel for a flight covers taxying, trip (take-off to landing), contingency (normally 5 per cent. of trip fuel), diversion to alternative destination, final reserve fuel (30 minutes holding), additional fuel if required by the type of operation (e.g. extended range twin engined operation) and any extra at the commander's discretion.
Mr. Jamieson: The Minister of State for Transport (John Spellar) has met representatives from the National Pensioners' Convention, and my Department has received many letters from pensioners (including some groups) on this topic.
Mr. Jamieson: From 1 June 2001 we have ensured that all pensioners have been entitled to a free bus pass allowing half-fare travel on local buses, as a minimum. Local authorities may also run more generous schemes if they wish. From 1 April 2003 travel concessions will
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also be extended to men aged between 60 and 65. Expenditure on concessionary travel schemes is covered by the contribution that the Government makes to local authorities through the annual grant settlement. We have no plans to make funds available for free travel for all pensioners.
Mr. Jamieson: The Secretary of State receives advice from the Security Service who have responsibility for preparing and disseminating assessments on the terrorist threat to UK vessels. This process is ongoing and is the basis for the development of measures which provide an appropriate response.
Mr. Jamieson: The consultation period, throughout the UK, is on-going and has been extended until we have consulted on Gatwick runway options. We intend to issue a revised South East consultation document next month. The consultation period will then run for four months after the date of publication of the new material. Those who have already responded to the consultation will be able to amend, add to, or replace their original response having considered the new material, if they wish to do so.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures he intends to take to protect individual airline passengers who have bought accommodation from a listed supplier against scheduled airline failure. 
Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what relative weight the Government will give to representatives by (a) foreign governments and (b) elected representatives of UK communities in reaching its decision on whether or not to support the proposed Central Railway project; 
Mr. Jamieson: We have received the Strategic Rail Authority's advice on this proposal, as well as a number of representations from other parties. We are giving the proposals due and careful consideration and will respond to Central Railway in due course.
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Mr. Jamieson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend, the Minister of State on 11 December 2002, Official Report, column 351W to the right hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Sir John Stanley).
Mr. Jamieson: We are committed to the early introduction of a scheme under which the operators of scheduled long-distance coach services would offer those aged over 60, and disabled people, concessionary half-fares in return for the services becoming eligible for Bus Service Operators Grants from my Department. We are currently pursuing clearance of this proposal under European Union State Aid rules, and are in discussion with coach operators on the details of the scheme's introduction. We aim to introduce the scheme as soon as possible in 200304.
Mr. Jamieson: The Government have for many years encouraged the wide use of seat belts, as they can significantly reduce injuries in many types of accidents. Indeed, since 1 October 2001, seat belts have been required in all new minibuses, coaches and busesapart from those specifically designed for urban use with standing passengers. However, no assessment has been made by observation of the use of seat belts by coach passengers.
Mr. Michael Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received from coach operators about the wearing of passenger seat belts; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: No such representations have been received from coach operators. However, the Confederation of Passenger Transport, which represents bus and coach operators, responded to an informal consultation by the Department in May 2001 for views on the proposals in the draft EU Directive on seat belt wearing.
Mr. Michael Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to strengthen the regulations governing the use of seat belts for passengers in buses and coaches; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: The terms of an EU Directive, presently under consideration, will require seat belts to be used in the rear of buses and coaches where they are provided. Seat belt wearing is already compulsory in the
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UK for the drivers and front seat passengers in all vehicles, and in the rear of mini-buses under 2.54 tonnes unladen weight (roughly 16 seats).
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