HC Deb 28 February 2000 vol 345 cc7-8W
Dr. Stoate

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on his policy on the application of the precautionary principle included in Article 174 of the EC treaty and principle 15 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on the environment and development. [111426]

Ms Beverley Hughes

The Government's policy on application of the precautionary principle is based on the Rio Declaration, and is set out in Chapter 4 of the Strategy for Sustainable Development for the UK, "A better quality of life" (page 23), a copy of which can be found in the Library of the House.

Heads of households of non-pensionable age who were not in paid work1
Region Social rented 1996–97 Private rented Social rented 1997–98 Private rented Social rented 1998–99 Private rented
North East 66 n/a 64 251 63 n/a
North West (including Merseyside) 66 47 64 47 64 48
Yorks and Humber 58 40 60 41 57 40
East Midlands 58 42 58 33 57 34
East Midlands 61 37 56 31 55 33
East 53 35 49 27 45 27
London 63 40 59 36 56 36
South East 48 34 51 27 49 25
South West 55 34 53 30 53 30
England 60 39 58 35 56 34
1 Estimates from the Labour Force Survey Spring and Autumn Quarters. The figures are subject to sampling variability.
2 Three years data have been combined to give reliable estimates for the private rented sector in the North East to overcome sample size limitation. Thus an average for 1996, 1997, and 1998 is shown under 1997. This calculation is not possible for 1996–97.

A better quality of life specifies the precautionary principle as one of the 10 guiding principles and approaches that the Government will take account of in policy development. Based on the Rio Declaration definition, the Government's definition makes it clear that precautionary action requires assessment of the costs and benefits of action, and transparency in decision making. It also sees precaution as being relevant beyond environmental damage, to include affects on animal and human health.

Dr. Stoate

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to empower local authorities to have recourse to the precautionary principle in Article 174 of the EC treaty when assessing planning applications from telecommunications companies to erect mobile phone masts within highly populated areas. [111425]

Ms Beverley Hughes

Article 174 of the EC treaty applies only in respect of policy-making at the EU level, and not to policy-making by individual member states.

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