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Railway Line Closures

Mr. Leigh : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria British Rail is required to meet when considering a railway line for closure ; and what consultation process it is required to hold.

Mr. Portillo : When considering a railway line for closure British Rail should have regard to the objectives which were set for the chairman on 21 October 1986 and which were announced to the House the same day in reply to a question from the hon. Member for Chipping Barnet

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(Mr. Chapman) at columns 772-74. The statutory railway closure procedure is set out in section 56 of the Transport Act 1962, as modified by section 54 of the Transport Act 1968.

M1 (Congestion)

Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action he intends to take to improve road conditions on the section of the M1 between the M25 and 15 miles north of Luton.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : On the M1 itself a scheme is being prepared to instal climbing lanes in both directions from junction 9. An experimental automatic incident detection system has also been installed on the northbound carriageway of the M1 from Bedfordshire to Northamptonshire. In conjunction with more frequent matrix signals, this will give motorists better warning of slow-moving or stationary traffic ahead when incidents occur.

Improvements to alternative routes, including the extension of the M40 to Birmingham, are expected to attract some traffic away from the M1. We are, in our current review of the road programme, considering what further measures are necessary.

Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received concerning congestion with particular reference to tailbacks being experienced during the early morning from the M25 to about 15 miles north of Luton ; and if he will estimate the time lost to motorists in tailbacks on that section of the M1.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : From time to time members of the public write to us about congestion, usually as a result of an incident on the motorway. In our economic assessment of the need for improvement, account is taken of notional delays to vehicles. We do not systematically record information about the time actually lost in tailbacks.

Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of the extent to which junction 8 on the M1 is operating satisfactorily.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : We plan to study problems of queuing occurring on the northbound off-slip at junction 8. Temporary difficulties were experienced when the junction was closed to allow for the rebuilding of the A4147. The junction is now fully operational.

Airline Pilot Training

Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will take steps to ensure that there are an adequate number of places in approved commercial airline pilot training establishments to meet current and future demand ;

(2) if he will make a statement on the shortfall in qualified commercial airline pilots and the lack of technologically advanced training facilities to overcome this problem.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Government's policy is that the aviation industry should be responsible for meeting the costs of training whatever skilled manpower it needs. It is

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important to maintain professional pilot training facilities in the United Kingdom and to ensure a supply of high- quality United Kingdom professional pilots, but the responsibility for funding such training must rest with the air transport operators themselves.

Bridge Heights (Signs)

Mr. Fraser : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will introduce legislation to provide for bridge height signs to be displayed in imperial and metric measures.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : No fresh legislation is needed. Bridge heights may already be shown in imperial and metric measures.

Battersea Bridge (Collision)

Mr. Bowis : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the collision of a river craft with Battersea bridge on 19 January ; and what steps he will be bringing forward to improve river safety and navigation on the Thames.

Mr. Portillo : This incident is being investigated by a marine surveyor from the Department as well as by the Port of London Authority. The surveyor will be concerned to establish the causes and to see whether the circumstances point to any steps which can be taken to avoid a recurrence.

Channel Tunnel

Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to match the subsidy provided by the French Government to Socie te Nationale de Chemins de Fer for its Channel tunnel rail plans, by making available to British Rail additional funds to enable it to meet essential environmental costs relevant to a new line of railway from the tunnel to London ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo : Section 42 of the Channel Tunnel Act 1987 prohibits Government subsidies in connection with British Rail's Channel tunnel rail services. But I expect BR's proposals for a new line to take full account of environmental considerations.

Docklands Light Railway

Mr. Amos : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much public money (a) has already been spent on the docklands light railway, and (b) is planned to be spent in the next three years.

Mr. Portillo : Public expenditure on the initial docklands light railway and City extension is expected to reach some £140 million by the end of this financial year. Public expenditure in the following three years on the City extension is forecast to total some £45 million. In addition to this Olympia and York the developers of Canary wharf are contributing £68 million. The cost of the Beckton extension will be met by the LDDC out of the increases in the value of its land holdings generated by the railway.

Manchester Airport (Accident)

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the reply to the right hon. Member

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for Manchester, Wythenshawe of 12 January, Official Report, column 728, if he will now summarise in a statement to the House the main findings of the report on the British Airtours Boeing 737 accident at Manchester airport on 22 August 1985.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : There has been no request for a review board, so we expect to publish the full report on 13 March. No useful purpose would be served by publishing a summary of the findings before that. The report has already been seen in draft by the CAA and by other parties to the investigation. Relevant recommendations have been acted upon.


Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if there are any plans to improve the traffic flow on the A40 at the remaining road junctions in London ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Yes. Improvements are planned or under construction at the four remaining junctions on the A40 in London as follows :

Swakeleys Road

An underpass is under construction and due for completion Spring 1990.

Long Lane

Work is to start on construction of an underpass later this year. Gipsy Corner Western Circus

Draft orders proposing grade separation at these junctions were published in March 1988.

Severn Bridge

Dr. Marek : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will give (a) the amount of finance made available in the form of grant or loans by the European Economic Community towards the construction of the M4 Severn bridge and (b) the total actual cost of construction, giving all figures at current prices.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The United Kingdom was not a member of the EEC when the existing Severn crossing was constructed in 1961-66. The cost of construction of the Severn bridge alone was £63.8 million, and the Severn crossing as a whole (including the Wye bridge linking viaducts) £102.3 million, both at current prices.

Public Expenditure

Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is his estimate of gross and net public sector capital spending by his Department by both central Government and local authorities for 1988-89 and for each of the next three years, at current prices and at constant 1987-88 prices.

Mr. Portillo : The table shows spending on fixed assets, both gross and net by central Government and local authorities. Information about public sector capital spending will be included in table 21.1.11 of the 1989 public expenditure White Paper, to be published on 30 January.

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£ million                                                           




Gross spending                                                      

  Central Government        |960    |1,290  |1,370  |1,410          

  Local authorities         |700    |810    |770    |790            

Net Spending                                                        

  Central Government        |920    |1,250  |1,350  |1,390          

  Local authorities         |660    |730    |730    |750            

Real Terms (1987-88 prices)                                         

Gross spending                                                      

  Central Government        |900    |1,160  |1,190  |1,190          

  Local authorities         |660    |730    |670    |660            

Net spending                                                        

  Central Government        |870    |1,120  |1,170  |1,170          

  Local authorities         |620    |650    |630    |630            

National Bus Company (Accounts)

Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to receive the National Bus Company's accounts ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Channon : The NBC's report and accounts for 1987-88, published today, show that at 31 March 1988, the estimated gross proceeds from the disposal programme are £323 million, an increase of £17 million over the estimate given in the accounts for 1986-87. After allowing for the repayment of all the NBC's debt, taxation, redundancy costs, and the costs of the disposal programme, there should be a net surplus to the Government of at least £89 million.

This is an excellent outcome to the NBC's privatisation programme which involved the sale of 72 subsidiaries (over half of which were sold to their own managment) embodying some 14,000 buses and coaches and 48,000 employees. The completion of the NBC's disposal programme, well within the statutory deadline, has played an essential role in the successful introduction of competition in the bus industry and I pay tribute to all those involved. A copy of the accounts has been deposited in the Library of the House.


Chemical Weapons (Control)

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what initiatives he plans, following the Paris 145- nation conference on chemical weapons, control and disarmament to facilitate the framework for the formation of an international regulatory agency within the United Nations for the control of exports of chemical agents capable of being put to military use.

Mr. Waldegrave : We are committed to the achievement of a comprehensive global and verifiable ban on chemical weapons as the only effective means to halt the spread of these weapons and to ensure the destruction of existing stockpiles.

Pending the conclusion of such a convention, 19 western countries (the "Australia Group") meet regularly to exchange information and to concert action on export controls on chemical weapon precursors. Members of the group also circulate to national industries a longer warning list of other chemicals which might have relevance to the manufacture of chemical weapons.

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Security Council resolution 620 of 26 August 1988, sponsored by the United Kingdom called upon all states

"to continue to apply, to establish or to strengthen strict control of the export of chemical products serving for the production of chemical weapons".

This reflected points made in the speech by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to the UN special session on disarmament on 7 June last year.

Middle East Peace Initiative

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has considered the recent Council of Europe middle east peace initiative ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Waldegrave : We warmly welcome this helpful Council of Europe initiative, which has our full support, as do all efforts which encourage the parties to the Arab-Israel dispute to recognise each other's legitimate rights and to make progress towards a settlement.

Point Geologie

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what protests have been made by Her Majesty's Government to the French authorities regarding the construction of an airstrip at Point Geologie in Antarctica and the threat to penguin breeding grounds ; if any of the Greenpeace protesters were British subjects ; what policing arrangements exist within Antarctica ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Eggar : We are following with close attention the construction of the French airstrip at Point Geologie in the French-claimed sector of Antarctica. The information required under the Antarctic treaty concerning French activities this austral summer has already been provided by the French authorities.

The French are constructing their airstrip under the terms of article VII. 2 of the agreed measures on the conservation of antarctic fauna and flora, which permit such activities to the minimum extent necessary for the establishment, supply and operation of Antarctic stations. Observance of the agreed measures is subject to review, and this can be done during the normal course of Antarctic treaty meetings, the next of which will take place in Paris in May. I understand that a number of the members of Greenpeace involved in the recent airstrip protest were British subjects.

Under the Antarctic treaty, consultative members have the right to designate observers to carry out inspections in all areas of Antarctica including all stations operated by treaty members. The United Kingdom is a founder member of the Antarctic treaty system, and a full consultative party.

Diplomatic Wing (Costs)

Mr. Patrick Thompson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he proposes to make any changes to his Department's diplomatic wing running costs limit and cash limits for 1988-89.

Mr. Eggar : The cash limit for class II, vote 1 (overseas representation) will be decreased by £9,196,000 from £439,022,000 to £429,826,000. In addition, the running

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costs limit on vote 1 will be reduced by £4,347,000 from £406,298, 000 to £401,951,000. Both changes are due to reductions in assumed costs overseas.

Foreign Affairs Council

Mr. Moss : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish in the Official Report a statement on the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council held on 23 January.

Mrs. Chalker : The Foreign Affairs Council met in Brussels on 23 January. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State represented the United Kingdom.

The council again discussed the dispute with the United States over the EC directive banning imports of hormone-treated meat. It called on the Commission to continue the action initiated in GATT to seek condemnation of United States unilateral retaliatory measures, but also to continue bilateral contacts with the United States Administration to secure a negotiated settlement of the dispute. While approving a revised list of Community counter-retaliation measures, it agreed to defer the question of their implementation for further consideration, at its meeting in February, in the light of progress in GATT and bilaterally.

The council reviewed EC/EFTA co-operation, and called for a further strengthening of the relationship. To this end the EFTA countries will be invited to an informal ministerial meeting in March. The United Kingdom welcomes such moves.

Taking account of the Community's close relations with Cyprus and Malta, the council agreed on new financial protocols to be offered to the two countries, providing generous levels of grant aid and access to EIB loans.

The Presidency introduced the Commission draft directive on the right to vote in local elections. Substantive discussion was deferred.

Meeting as a conference of representatives of the member states, Ministers agreed on the appointment as vice-presidents of the Commission for 1989-90 of Mr. Frans Andriessen, Mr. Martin Bangemann, Sir Leon Brittan, Mr. Henning Christophersen, Mr. Manuel Marin and Mr. Filippo Pandolfi.


Government Expenditure

Mr. Ralph Howell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the average general Government expenditure in cash terms, real terms, and as a percentage of gross domestic product for each period of five years since 1959.

Mr. Major : Figures for general Government expenditure (excluding privatisation proceeds) in cash and real terms and money gross domestic product for 1963-64 to 1991-92, for which five yearly averages can be derived, were given in table 1.1 of the 1988 Autumn Statement. For earlier years, calendar year figures for general Government expenditure, in cash and real terms, and as a percentage of GDP, were published in the article "Long term trends in public expenditure" in the October 1987 edition of Economic Trends.

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Mr. Heddle : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessments he has made on the impact of the imposition of value added tax on non- domestic construction of the viability of schemes entered into but not confirmed by binding building contracts before the date of publication of the judgment by the European Court on 21 June 1988.

Mr. Lilley : I have given detailed consideration to this matter in the course of consultations with developers following the EC court ruling on the imposition of VAT on non-domestic construction. I propose to publish draft clauses shortly.

National Savings

Mr. Hanley : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what sales of the new National Savings capital bond have been made to date ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lilley : By Tuesday 24 January savers had invested some £45 million in capital bonds since they were introduced on 4 January. Purchases are currently running at nearly £20 million a week. This is a most encouraging start. It demonstrates that investors are attracted by the offer of a guaranteed annual return of 12 per cent. gross of income tax over five years, regardless of what happens to other interest rates.

Central Office of Information

Mr. Jack : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is proposing any change to the Central Office of Information cash limit for 1988-89.

Mr. Lilley : Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate, the cash limit for class XIX vote 1 will be increased by £103,000 from £1,181,000 to £1,284,000. The increase will be charged to the reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure. The additional expenditure is needed to cover services provided by the Central Office of Information on an allied service basis.

Customs and Excise

Mr. John Greenway : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if there are any proposals to change the 1988-89 cash limit and running costs limit for Her Majesty's Customs and Excise.

Mr. Lilley : Both the cash limit and the running costs limit for HM Customs and Excise (class XIX, vote 2) have been reduced by £3,000 : from £514,733,000 to £514,730,000 and from £464,058,000 to £464,055, 000 respectively. These decreases will be offset by corresponding increases in the cash limit and running costs limit for the Cabinet Office : Office of the Minister for the Civil Service (class XX, vote 1) and reflect the transfer of costs for recruitment under the direct entry grade 7 costs competition, 1988.

There is no overall increase in either cash limits or gross running costs limits for Government as a whole as a result of these changes, which will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

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Race Relations

Ms. Abbott : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce identifiable channels of complaint or grievance procedures for prisoners who feel that they have suffered racial discrimination ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Any prisoner who thinks that he or she may have suffered racial discrimination can raise the matter through the usual grievance procedures. In addition, provided that the complaint is raised internally at the same time, the prisoner may write to the Commission for Racial Equality, which will decide what action to take.

Ms. Abbott : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to ensure that every regional race relations co- ordinators' group includes a representative from the Prison Officers Association.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The regional race relations co-ordinators' group provides a forum for the discussion of race relations issues and, drawing on these discussions and on information from governors and prison service headquarters, advises the prisons board on the service's implementation of the race relations policy. Its membership includes the four regional race relations co-ordinators, representatives from headquarters and one of the community relations consultants. It is not the general practice to invite representatives of staff associations to participate in meetings that are essentially concerned with management matters.

Ms. Abbott : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will take steps to ensure that boards of visitors have oversight over race relations matters ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) if he will take steps to ensure that boards of visitors routinely receive results of all racial monitoring and liaise on a regular basis with the race relations committee on their establishment.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The principal duty of a board of visitors is to satisfy itself as to the state of the prison premises, the administration of the prison, and the treatment of prisoners. Boards report annually on how they have carried out this duty. Guidance to boards on the content of their report includes the need to report on race relations matters. We would expect them to ensure that they have access to the necessary information for this purpose. We are considering, however, whether more detailed advice would be helpful.

Ms. Abbott : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to ensure that the monitoring of members of ethnic minorities in prison and various work parties and training courses is sensitive to the length of time inmates stay in a particular workplace and the allocation of high-status jobs.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Guidance issued to governors requires them to ensure that all inmates have equal access to training courses and to jobs and to be particularly vigilant in monitoring access to the more attractive jobs. No specific guidance has been given in regard to monitoring the length of time inmates stay in particular jobs.

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Ms. Abbott : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to ensure that data collection on race in prison department establishments is standardised to enable comparisons to be drawn across establishments and across regions.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Establishments have already been given guidance on the standard classifications to be used when recording the ethnic origin of prisoners. This took effect from 1 June 1984.

Ms. Abbott : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to publish the report entitled "Race Relations in Prison" by Elaine Genders and Elaine Player ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : We understand that the Oxford University Press will be publishing the report on 2 February.

Ms. Abbott : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to ensure that staff who are chosen to undertake specific duties in prison such as classification and transfer are given particular guidance on the exercise of their discretion in matters involving race relations.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Guidance issued to prison staff stresses that all duties can be discharged properly only if staff treat prisoners with humanity and respect, impartially and without discrimination on the grounds of colour, race or religion.

Prisons (Psychiatry)

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners and others taken into custody have been subjected to body belts in 1988 ; to what extent a rota system of consultant psychiatrists is available to (a) prisons and (b) the police ; on how many such cases their services were used ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : A governor may order an inmate in a prison service establishement to be put under restraint in a body belt where this is necessary to prevent the inmate from injuring himself or others, damaging property or creating a disturbance. During 1987 (the last year for which figures are currently available), body belts were used on 74 occasions in establishments in England and Wales. The prison medical office must be informed whenever a governor orders an inmate to be put under restraint.

Consultants employed in the NHS are frequently called upon by prison medical officers for specialist advice in the context of inmates' treatment generally and in emergencies. In the year ended 31 March 1988 (the last year for which information is available), the cases of 2,815 inmates were referred to NHS consultant psychiatrists, and of a further 9,410 to other NHS psychiatrists. Such services are available round the clock by arrangement with regional health authorities. Information about the incidence of referrals or consultants for specific purposes is not available.

The treatment of people held in police custody is governed by code C (code of practice for the detention, treatment and questioning of persons by police officers) of the codes of practice made under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The code states that reasonable force may be used to prevent escape, injury, damage to property

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or the destruction of evidence and requires medical attention for the suspect to be sought whenever necessary, normally from the police surgeon.

Custody records in respect of every person detained by the police are held locally and the information sought could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Essex Police Force

Mr. Hayes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy to increase the establishment of the Essex police force by 150 phased equally over the next three years.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend will consider applications for increases in the Essex police establishment, together with those received from other authorities, in the context of the extra police posts which may be

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available year on year and with advice from Her Majesty's inspectorate of constabulary. He expects shortly to announce his decisions on increases in police establishments for 1989-90.

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