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Mr. Peter Bottomley : We have today invited competitive tenders from civil engineering contractors for the construction of the final section of the M40 extension between Waterstock and Wendlebury. Firms have been asked to submit tenders within six weeks based on their own choice of construction period. We will be offering the successful contractor a bonus for finishing ahead of schedule with financial penalties if completion is delayed.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill, he will now explain how any waiving of interest payments with respect to the Mersey tunnels would be authorised and financed.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : If the Merseyside passenger transport authority provides the Secretary of State with proposals for putting the tunnels on a sound financial footing which show that Government assistance through the waiving of interest payments is justified, we shall consider with it how that can best be done.
Mr. Rowe : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to obtain a copy of the recent report by the Society of County Surveyors about the case for roads improvement in the south-east ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : We have read with interest the recent report by the County Surveyors' Society entitled "Review of Highway Investment Needs up to the year 2001 on Motorways, Primary and Strategic Routes in England (excluding London)".
We shall consider the views of the society on national roads in the review of the trunk road programme which we are currently undertaking.
We have recently invited all local highway authorities to submit bids by 31 July for transport supplementary grant for 1990-91 for local roads of more than local importance. In considering their bids, the local highway authorities may also find the report of some assistance.
The new system of credit approvals rather than capital allocations should direct more resources towards local roads capital spending. We agree with the basic message from the county surveyors that increased spending on roads will benefit the economy, reduce casualties and improve the environment.
Mr. Channon : The purpose of aviation security is to protect passengers and aircrew from attacks by terrorists and other criminals. At the same time every effort has to be made to facilitate the smooth operation of airports and air services. I have to judge this in the light of the changing threat to civil aviation and of security incidents such as hijacks and sabotage. The Lockerbie disaster marked a trend for terrorist bomb attacks on airliners to become increasingly severe. Even tighter security measures are necessary even if this is at the expense of some cost and inconvenience to passengers.
My aviation security review is a continuing one. I have already discussed progress on it with the Transport Select Committee. The Committee's report on its current inquiry into airport security will be of further help to me as my review goes forward.
Immediately after Lockerbie increased security measures were ordered for United States airlines, particularly for hold baggage. I attended an emergency meeting of the National Aviation Security Committee on 5 January in the light of which I decided to bring in further measures for United States airlines in relation to cabin baggage, hold baggage and cargo. I ordered new rules for the issue and use of passes at all United Kingdom airports and on 6 April I announced the introduction of a package of measures for all our major airports that should provide better security for restricted areas and for aircraft, passengers and baggage in those areas.
I have now set firm objectives for a further tightening of security. They are :
(1) closer examination of the items taken on board aircraft, such as radios and computers, which might be used to conceal explosive devices ;
Column 447(2) screening all hold baggage on flights at higher risk ; (3) further tightening of the security requirements for cargo, mail and courier consignments ;
(4) tighter requirements for the physical separation of inbound and outbound passengers. (This may require structural alterations, or equivalent safeguards, at some airports.) ;
(5) changes to the design and construction of aircraft interiors to make it harder to hide weapons or explosives in them, and to make them easier to search.
Achieving these objectives will take time. They require careful co- ordination, more staff, more equipment, further training and close co- operation with our aviation industry and with other likeminded countries.
It is not enough to lay down security requirements ; we must check that airports and airlines carry them out. I now intend to more than double the strength of the aviation security division. My team of aviation security advisers made 190 visits to airports last year. They will now be able to carry out more inspections and spot checks, as well as special surveys to determine whether new measures are needed. To emphasise their monitoring role they will be reconstituted as the Aviation Security Inspectorate. Each of the 20 or so larger airports will be visited frequently, and will be inspected formally and comprehensively at least once a year. Other airports will be formally inspected at regular intervals. Inspectors will also make overseas visits to ascertain that the security afforded to British airlines is satisfactory. They will be involved, as the advisers are now, in advising on the appropriate measures to counter the threat, in the development of new security measures and policies, and in the day-to-day response to security questions as they arise.
Under the Aviation Security Act 1982 I have certain powers to direct airport managers and aircraft operators for the purpose of protecting aircraft, airports and air navigation facilities from acts of violence. My aviation security advisers have the power to enter and inspect aircraft, and to detain them if necessary for that purpose, or enter and inspect any building or part of an airport. But there are certain areas where my powers are more limited than I should like. I shall therefore seek new powers from Parliament to secure more effective implementation of security measures. Over the last two years my Department has put together a clearly defined programme to carry out research and development into aviation security equipment. It has made arrangements with the Home Office's scientific research and development branch and the Ministry of Defence's Royal Armaments Research and Development Establishment to develop new detection techniques, and to conduct trials of commercial equipment for airport use. The budget for this work is about half a million pounds a year.
I now want this work stepped up, and I am doubling the budget for the current financial year. The research establishments will bring in extra staff and the work will be co-ordinated by a full-time project officer--a scientist--in the aviation security division of my Department. The projects will include the continuing examination of commercially available equipment for explosives detection, to assess the suitability of the new generation of advanced X-rays and explosive vapour detectors and other systems in this field. We shall also sponsor work on new techniques for the bulk detection of explosives in baggage and cargo.
We are keenly interested in the thermal neutron
Column 448analysis (TNA) machines now being developed in the USA and in the United Kingdom for detecting explosives in baggage. The American project is sponsored by the FAA, and we have now received its formal proposal to install one of the six production machines at Gatwick or Heathrow later this year. We are examining the practical considerations with BAA and expect very soon to be able to reply favourably to the FAA proposal.
In this country work is being carried out under a contract between the Atomic Energy Authority's Harwell laboratory and a private company. We have kept in touch with progress on this project and are discussing with its sponsors the possibility of funding further work.
But it is too soon to know whether TNA can by itself solve all the problems of screening baggage and we must continue to look for additional techniques.
Aviation security is a matter of international concern. The standards and recommended practices which govern aviation security are set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). It is important that security worldwide should be co-ordinated so that it is everywhere in line with the threat to civil aviation. In February I attended a special ministerial meeting held by the Council of ICAO to discuss the implications of the Lockerbie disaster. I reported the successful outcome of this meeting to the House on 21 February. An ambitious programme of work began at ICAO designed to improve security standards worldwide. A meeting of the ICAO aviation security panel has been convened for May to take matters forward. Meanwhile, I look forward to a further discussion with United States Secretary of Transportation Skinner when he visits London later this week.
My aim is to introduce sound and practical measures that give a high level of security but interfere as little as possible with the operation of our airports and airlines and so with the travelling public. Such measures need careful preparation in close consultation with the industry and others. I am determined to press ahead with this work so as to achieve worthwhile and lasting improvements to aviation security in this country.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : I refer the hon. Member to the answers given by my right hon. Friend today to the hon. Member for Welwyn, Hatfield (Mr. Evans) and to the hon. Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith).
45. Mr. Prescott : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many security breaches have occurred at British airports since 21 December 1988 ; how many reviews of security he has called for since then ; and what action he is now taking to improve security.
Mr. Channon : Fourteen security incidents have been notified to the Department. Nine of these involved breaches of varying degrees of seriousness in the requirements of the aviation security programme. Two other cases are still under investigation. On the latter parts of the question I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend, the Member for Welwyn, Hatfield (Mr. Evans) and to my hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith).
Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he has concerning an incident at 8.45 am on Monday 17 April involving the fishing vessel Laurel and a submarine in the Irish sea ; what action he has taken ; what investigations will be undertaken ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Portillo [holding answer 20 April 1989] : My Department received a report on 17 April that the Isle of Man registered fishing vessel Laurel had been towed backwards. The vessel was subsequently forced to cut her nets for safety, resulting in the loss of her fishing gear. She then returned to Peel. The incident would appear to have involved a United States Navy submarine which was operating in the area at the time and which, on surfacing, was found to have sustained superficial damage. It is understood that the United States authorities are conducting an investigation into the incident. The Laurel was outside territorial waters at the time and in such circumstances it is not normal practice for my Department to hold an investigation. The Isle of Man marine administration is inquiring into the incident.
Sir John Stanley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) further to his answer to the right hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling on 17 March, Official Report , columns 371-72 , whether, if the present year is the first year of operation of the high-speed line for the purposes of the net present value calculation referred to, the full construction costs, including the interest on construction finance, will be compounded forward to the first year of operation ; and with what compounding factor ;
(2) further to his answer to the right hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling on 17 March, Official Report , columns 371-72 , whether for the purposes of the net present value calculation referred to, the present year will be taken as the first year of construction or the first year of operation of the high-speed line.
Mr. Portillo [holding replies 20 April 1989] : There is no strict rule about which year is taken as the year to which the costs and benefits of a proposed project are discounted. However, it is common practice to discount to the year in which the project is appraised (the decision year). The choice of year to be taken as the "present" year for purposes of the NPV calculation does not affect the assessment of the project's viability. If the first year of operation is taken instead of the decision year, the NPV of the construction costs will be higher, since they will have been compounded forward, but the NPV of the revenues will also be higher, since they will not have been discounted back for so many years. If the NPV is positive when discounted to one particular year, then, using the same discount rate, it will also be positive when discounted (or compounded) to any other year. The compound rate used would be the same as the discount rate to be applied to the project (and described in previous answers to my right hon. Friend). Interest charges would not be included, since the discount (or compound) rate is used to measure the cost of capital resources instead of the interest rate ; to include both would be double counting.
Study |Cost £ -------------------------------------------------------------- Stage 2 of the four London assessment studies |4,000,000 Central London rail study (jointly with BR and LRT) |<1>400,000 East London rail study (jointly with DoE and LRT) |170,000 A4/M4 corridor study |200,000 Trunk road signing review |470,000 Development of traffic management and accident prevention measures |1,700,000 Company assisted travel |125,000 Heathrow and south west London orbital movement study (HASQUAD) |500,000 Tourist coaches in London |168,000 <1>Approximately.
Some of the studies require the use of the London transportation survey model. The total costs of the development, maintenance and use of this model between April 1986 and February 1989 was £2,300,000.
We hope to make an announcement in early summer.
37. Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what report he has received from his inspector into the cause of the derailment of the 10.36 am train from Waterloo to Southampton on Thursday 6 April ; what steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence of this accident ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Portillo : I understand that British Rail's internal inquiry into this derailment has taken place. Once I have received a copy of the inquiry report, I shall decide, upon the advice of the railway inspectorate, whether any action is required.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The annual cost of recording car mileages at the driver and vehicle licensing centre is estimated to be in excess of £3 million, in addition to the costs of setting up such a system. No comparison with the United States' experience can be made given the diversity of licensing and registration procedures applicable in individual states. The problems are accuracy and effectiveness as well as cost.
I also refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King).
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Gross public expenditure on roads and activities related to motor vehicles and motoring in Great Britain in 1988- 89 is presently forecast to be £4,450 million. This figure does not include police expenditure on traffic regulation.
Mr. Portillo : Last month my officials met officials of the relevant parties to discuss outstanding issues associated with the proposed rail link. Encouraging and substantial progress has been made. I now await a formal investment submission from the British Railways Board.
x |c|Road casualties in the United Kingdom: 1982-87|c| |Killed |Seriously injured |All killed or seriously |injured ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1982 |6,150 |82,242 |88,392 1983 |5,618 |72,923 |78,541 1984 |5,788 |75,524 |81,312 1985 |5,342 |72,128 |77,470 1986 |5,618 |70,577 |76,195 1987 |5,339 |66,178 |71,517
Provisional figures for 1988 for Great Britain indicate that there were 5,050 deaths in road accidents, a fall of2 per cent. compared with 1987.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Civil Aviation Authority is due to provide my right hon. Friend in July with advice on airport capacity to 2005, including runway capacity for the London area. He will wish to consider the advice before responding to the recent Select Committee on Transport's recommendation that all efforts should be made to provide a second main runway at Gatwick.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Civil Aviation Authority set out the strategy of the national air traffic services for relieving congestion in 1989 and the years to 1995 in its advice "Strategies for Making Good Use of Airspace 1989-95". This was published last December and copies placed in the Library.
The United Kingdom is also working with other European countries in the International Civil Aviation Organisation and in Eurocontrol to improve co- operation and co-ordination between air traffic services. An improved air traffic flow management system was recently brought into operation in readiness for summer traffic levels.
Column 453including those matters required by law. Proposals for a major reform of road traffic legislation were published on 7 February in a White Paper, "The Road User and the Law" (Cm. 576).
53. Mr. Boateng : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much fares on LRT services and British Rail's Network SouthEast services would have to rise, in real terms, to pay for the major upgrading programme and the full cross package of proposals in the central London rail study.
57. Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will review the regulations governing night flights of jet aircraft from London's airports, particularly of those in the NNC category.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The present night restrictions at Heathrow and Gatwick were introduced in 1988 and apply for five years. My right hon. Friend, however, has undertaken to review the night noise climate at Gatwick after the current summer season. This could lead to an adjustment of quotas if it is apparent that disturbance under the new restrictions regime has become worse, rather than lessening as we expect.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : There are 24 schemes costing more than £200 million at various stages of preparation in the current programme for improvement of the trunk road network in East Anglia. They are all scheduled for completion by 1995 ; many of them earlier. Good progress is being maintained.
Column 454Further possible improvements to trunk roads benefiting East Anglia are being considered in the current comprehensive review of the trunk road programme. We expect to make an announcement in the early summer.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : We announced on 19 April at column 163 a series of new measures intended to reduce the unacceptably high casualty rate among pedestrians. I also announced on 18 April at column 106 decisions on a number of aspects of our earlier proposals for improving motorcycle safety. Our priority now will be to implement all these measures as soon as practicable.
We shall shortly bring before the House for approval regulations to implement the Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Rear Seat Belts by Children) Act 1988.
The main task is to help generate news and current affairs coverage of the 100 deaths each week and just over 6,000 injuries.
62. Mr. Holt : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action he intends to take to alleviate the present situation of drivers being stuck in road jams of (i) 26 miles and (ii) over 30 miles.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : We need more road capacity and roads which last longer, drivers who cause fewer crashes and better information systems to warn of incidents and congestion. Action is being taken in each case.