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Mr. John Patten : It is an offence under section 2 of the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976 to bring foreign lottery tickets into Great Britain for the purpose of their sale, distribution or advertisement ; we have no reason to believe that the position will be affected by the advent of the single European market in 1992. We have no plans to introduce legislation to amend the 1976 Act.

Any decision on whether to institute proceedings in respect of an alleged offence under the 1976 Act is a matter for individual chief officers of police. The Crown Prosecution Service is then responsible for deciding independently whether the case should be prosecuted in the courts.

Saudi Arabia (Visit)

Mr. Mullin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whom he met and what was discussed on his recent visit to Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Hurd : I had a number of meetings with senior members of the Saudi Arabian Government and discussed the scope of intensifying the level of co-operation between this country and Saudi Arabia in a number of fields, including terrorism, drugs, organised crime and police training. I signed a memorandum of understanding with the Saudi Arabian Government to facilitate closer co-operation on these issues.

Police (Mutual Assistance)

Mr. David Martin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements exist for co-ordinating requests from chief officers of police for mutual aid assistance from other forces ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hurd : Mutual aid between police forces has for many years been a feature of British policing. Standing local arrangements for mutual aid are often used and do not require central co-ordination. When the demands on manpower or other resources are such that these arrangements are unlikely to be adequate, requests for assistance may be co-ordinated nationally by the mutual aid co-ordination centre (MACC) which was previously known as the national reporting centre. The centre is activated and controlled by the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers and not by the Home Office. Day-to-day operations are the responsibility of an officer of deputy chief constable rank, assisted by supporting staff. When the MACC is in operation, as at all other times, the direction and control of police operations


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within a force area, including the control of officers provided under mutual aid, is the responsibility of the chief officer of police for that area. The MACC is responsible for co-ordinating requests from chief officers : it does not have the power to take the initiative in moving police officers from one force area to another. The Home Office is today issuing a circular to chief officers of police and police authorities about the mutual aid co-ordination centre. I have placed a copy in the Library.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL

Marre Committee

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Attorney-General from what outside sources with practical experience of the subjects considered by the Marre committee advice has been sought in the preparation of the Government's response to the Marre committee ; and if he will make a statement.

The Attorney-General : The Marre committee was set up by the Bar and the Law Society and reported directly to them. The three Green Papers laid before Parliament on 25 January 1989 contain the Government's own provisional proposals relating to the requirements for carrying out in the future the work presently conducted by the legal profession ; and are not a response to the Marre committee's report.

Baby C

Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the Attorney-General whether he will seek the permission of the Court of Appeal to place in the Libarary a copy of the medical report considered in the recent Baby C case.

The Attorney-General : No.

NATIONAL FINANCE

Business Investment

Miss Widdecombe : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the latest figures for the growth of business investment in the economy.

Mr. Major : The latest figures show that business investment was 14.3 per cent. higher in real terms in 1988 than in 1987.

Economic Data

Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he proposes to take to improve the quality of economic statistical data published by his Department.

Mr. Major : The Treasury, Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue are currently involved, with the Central Statistical Office and other departments, in implementing specific recommendations on improving the quality of Government economic statistics included in the recent scrutiny report. The report, copies of which are available in the Library, also made recommendations about the inter-departmental arrangements for the production of Government economic statistics. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced on 5 April at columns 190-91,


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the establishment of a separate Government Department, responsible to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, bringing together the work of the Central Statistical Office, the Business Statistics Office and some parts of the statistical work of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Employment. These changes are designed to achieve a significant improvement in the quality and relevance of Government economic statistics.

Customs and Excise Management Act 1979

Mr. Quentin Davies : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which the commissioners of Customs and Excise will disclose particulars of cases where proceedings for offences are compounded under section 152 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.

Mr. Lilley : Section 152 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 is the most recent re-enactment of the commissioners' long-standing power to compound proceedings, that is to offer an alleged offender the option of paying a penalty out of court rather than be prosecuted. This power is used to resolve the majority of customs or excise offences, and enables them to be dealt with efficiently and effectively without burdening the courts or tying up Customs staff in lengthy court hearings. Hitherto, details of compounded settlements have not usually been made public. The commissioners, having reviewed their policy on disclosure of compounded settlements, have decided that in respect of settlements made on or after 1 June 1989, details will be disclosed in the following circumstances :

It will be the Commissioners' invariable practice to disclose details

(a) to other Government Departments whose statutory

responsibilities are directly affected ; and

(b) to the courts for sentencing purposes after conviction, in cases where there has been an earlier compounded settlement for a similar matter within the time limits specified for offences by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

The commissioners will also disclose compounded settlements under two other circumstances

(c) to employers when it is apparent that

(i) the nature of the employment has facilitated the offence ; or (

(ii) where drugs offences or indications of serious alcohol abuse are involved, the nature of the employment or duties requires a high degree of unimpaired judgement or faculties.

(d) in response to enquiries from Parliament or the media about cases which have excited public attention, if disclosure is considered to be in the public interest.

In all cases, persons considering an offer to compound for an alleged offence will be warned when the offer is made that details of the settlement may be disclosed in the circumstances set out at (a) to (d) above.

The commissioners have considered the recommendation of Lord Keith of Kinkel's committee on the "Enforcement Powers of the Revenue Departments" (Cmnd. 9440), that the names of all persons making compounded settlements and particulars of the settlements should be published, subject to discretion to withhold the names of persons making full spontaneous voluntary disclosure of their offences. The policy now to be adopted reflects the commissioners' conclusion that, other than in the particular circumstances already described, it would


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not be equitable or make the best use of their resources or those of the courts to depart from the present general principle of non-disclosure. The commissioners' general policy of non- disclosure of details of their dealings in individual cases will therefore continue to apply to cases which do not come within the circumstances described above.

I am satisfied with this outcome of the commissioners' review.

Computers

Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has any contingency measures to prevent damaging financial upheavals in the event of incorrect retail prices index figures being published as a result of unauthorised penetration of the computer systems.

Mr. Lilley [holding answer 24 April 1989] : I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend


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the Minister of State, Department of Employment on security of RPI computer systems. It is not our practice to comment on contingency plans.

SCOTLAND

Home Improvements

Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list, giving the relevant statutory references, the home improvement grant orders currently in operation ; and if he will indicate against each the policy objective, the level of grant, the amount of expenditure incurred each year of operation and the number of homes estimated to be improved.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The primary objective of home improvement grants is to facilitate the improvement and repair of the existing private sector housing stock. The information available, from 1982 onwards, is given in the table. The statutory references are to the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987.


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                           Section 236                                                                   Section 236 Conversion                                                        Section 244 Provision                                                         Section 248 Repairs                                                                                    

                           Improvement                                                                                             of standard amenities                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                          |<1>Maximum level of grant|Expenditure £ million    |Number of dwellings      |Maximum level of grant   |Expenditure £ million    |No. of dwellings         |<2>Maximum level of grant|Expenditure £ million    |Number of dwellings      |<2>Maximum level of grant|Expenditure £ million    |Number of dwellings                                

                          |per cent.                                                                    |per cent.                                                                    |per cent.                                                                    |per cent.                                                                                              

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1982                      |50/75/90                 |32.95                    |7,302                    |50                       |2.29                     |297                      |90                       |0.36                     |313                      |90                       |6.53                     |7,012                                              

1983                      |50/75/90                 |51.11                    |8,364                    |50                       |3.52                     |412                      |90                       |0.80                     |423                      |90                       |40.80                    |24,707                                             

1984                      |50/75/90                 |49.90                    |9,057                    |50                       |4.42                     |611                      |90/50                    |2.66                     |1,185                    |<3>90/50                 |80.89                    |30,827                                             

1985                      |50/75/90                 |43.95                    |7,505                    |50                       |5.47                     |804                      |50                       |2.50                     |1,242                    |50                       |62.63                    |20,367                                             

1986                      |50/75/90                 |46.29                    |10,497                   |50                       |3.21                     |792                      |50                       |1.33                     |738                      |50                       |44.77                    |19,426                                             

1987                      |50/75/90                 |51.65                    |10,729                   |50                       |2.68                     |616                      |50                       |0.94                     |560                      |50                       |55.99                    |18,763                                             

1988                      |50/75/90                 |57.77                    |10,019                   |50                       |4.59                     |818                      |50                       |0.53                     |353                      |50                       |74.58                    |19,942                                             

<1> Depending on condition of dwelling and financial circumstances of owner.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

<2> Temporary rate of 90 per cent. available in respect of applications made between 13 April 1982 and 31 March 1984.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

<3> From 1 April 1984 rate for replacement of lead plumbing is 75 per cent.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if there are grant schemes available to council house tenants for home improvements which they can take up independently of their council landlord.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : House improvement and repairs grants are, in principle, available to all tenants, although they may be given only with the approval of the local authority, both as landlord and as grant-giving authority.

Riverside Tenants' Hall

Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has received any request to continue with a central Government contribution to the Riverside tenants' hall, Govan.

Mr. Lang : The Riverside tenants' hall in Govan has received Government support through the urban programme for the maximum period of seven years, ending in 1990. Further support from public funds is a matter for the local authority.

Rent Phasing

Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland under what statutory authority rent phasing was operated for tenants of housing associations ; for how many years it operated ; and what consultations took place about its ending.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Section 58 of the Rent (Scotland) Act (which consolidated previous legislation) is


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the statutory authority under which rent increases for secure tenants of housing associations may be phased. These rent increases have been eligible for phasing for 16 years. Paragraphs 23 and 26 of the consultation paper "The Private Rented Sector : The Government's Legislative Proposals for Scotland", issued in November 1987, set out the Government's proposals to move towards the abolition of phasing of rent increases for both secure tenants of housing associations and private sector regulated tenants. This proposal was fully debated during the passage through Parliament of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988.

Tourism

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will make a statement on the effect of section 4 financial assistance on the Scottish tourist industry.

Mr. Lang : Over the last three financial years the Scottish tourist board has approved assistance for 337 projects amounting to £12.4 million under its section 4 programme. The total private sector investment represented by these projects is £84 million.

Health Education

Mr. Galbraith : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the budget of the Scottish Health Education Group, formerly the Scottish Health Education Unit and Scottish Council for Health Education in each


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financial year from 1978-79 to 1988-89, expressed as actual expenditure and as a percentage of the total Scottish Health Service spending in each of the specified years.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : Expenditure by the Scottish Health Education Group since 1978-79 is shown in the following table :


Financial year          |SHEG expenditure £000  |Percentage of NHS                              

                                                |expenditure in Scotland                        

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1978-79                 |1,064                  |0.119                                          

1979-80                 |1,252                  |0.118                                          

1980-81                 |1,540                  |0.115                                          

1981-82                 |1,889                  |0.123                                          

1982-83                 |2,136                  |0.129                                          

1983-84                 |2,086                  |0.135                                          

1984-85                 |2,799                  |0.147                                          

1985-86                 |3,077                  |0.153                                          

1986-87                 |3,057                  |0.143                                          

1987-88                 |3,220                  |0.138                                          

1988-89                 |<1>3,326               |0.128                                          

<1>Budget provision.                                                                            

Cervical Cytology

Mr. Robin Cook : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list all health boards which operate a computerised call-recall cervical cytology programme for all women aged 20 to 65 years at three yearly intervals.

Mr. Michael Forsyth [holding answer 24 April 1989] : Borders health board.


Column 564

Community Charge

Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether poll tax registration officers are currently empowered to request lists of school pupils' parents names and addresses from local authority education departments ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lang [holding answer 25 April 1989] : Under section 17(3)(b) of the Abolition of Domestic Rates Etc. (Scotland) Act 1987, community charges registration officers may require the regional or islands council and any district council in their registration areas to supply them with such information as they may reasonably require in connection with their functions, being information which the local authorities have in connection with any of their functions.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Farm and Horticulture Development Scheme

Mr. Mallon : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the total amount, in grants, paid out by the Department of Agriculture, Northern Ireland, under the farm and horticulture development scheme in each of the years since 1974 to applicants from each of the parliamentary constituencies in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Viggers : Grants paid for years 1975 to 1977 are available only for Northern Ireland as a whole. Thereafter the information is not available by parliamentary constituency, but is on a county basis.


Column 563


Year        |Antrim     |Armagh     |Down       |Fermanagh  |Londonderry|Tyrone     |Total                  

            |£          |£          |£          |£          |£          |£          |£                      

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1974        |-          |-          |-          |-          |-          |-          |n/a                    

1975        |-          |-          |-          |-          |-          |-          |11,600                 

1976        |-          |-          |-          |-          |-          |-          |39,746                 

1977        |-          |-          |-          |-          |-          |-          |21,456                 

1978        |597,527    |378,237    |583,402    |591,166    |382,045    |547,404    |3,079,781              

1979        |1,375,719  |734,757    |1,004,965  |1,064,884  |727,903    |1,323,359  |6,231,587              

1980        |2,600,418  |1,319,611  |1,821,130  |2,089,022  |1,693,971  |2,433,079  |11,957,231             

1981        |1,935,521  |949,534    |1,586,863  |2,117,212  |1,471,686  |1,761,168  |9,821,984              

1982        |2,136,111  |1,304,801  |995,931    |2,832,488  |1,446,296  |2,162,547  |10,878,174             

1983        |1,930,281  |1,180,048  |916,977    |1,781,689  |1,320,205  |1,977,257  |9,106,457              

1984        |1,812,487  |1,189,869  |897,376    |1,839,932  |1,193,126  |1,907,374  |8,840,164              

1985        |1,155,334  |725,201    |398,304    |1,407,510  |819,351    |1,393,233  |5,898,933              

1986        |673,313    |193,537    |318,293    |876,892    |356,706    |697,773    |3,116,514              

1987        |419,535    |158,386    |72,294     |767,866    |88,016     |338,492    |1,844,589              

1988        |85,819     |81,803     |13,376     |270,287    |10,077     |89,809     |551,171                

Pollution

Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if, further to his answer of 23 February, Official Report, column 757, he will list the locations and nature of the water pollution incidents between September and November 1988.

Mr. Needham : The information requested is contained in the table.


Type of pollution and  |Number                                     

location                                                           

-------------------------------------------------------------------

                                                                   

Agriculture                                                        

Beragh                 |2                                          

Gortrush               |1                                          

Reaghan                |1                                          

Drumlister             |1                                          

Fintona                |3                                          

Eskra                  |2                                          

Dromore                |1                                          

Plumbridge             |1                                          

Buninver               |1                                          

Newtownstewart         |2                                          

                                                                   

Food processing                                                    

Doogary                |2                                          

Conneywarren           |1                                          

                                                                   

Sand washing                                                       

Omagh                  |1                                          

Fallaghearn            |3                                          

Carrickmore            |2                                          

Beragh                 |3                                          

                                                                   

Sewage                                                             

Omagh                  |1                                          

Seskinore              |1                                          

                                                                   

Industrial                                                         

Gortin                 |1                                          

                                                                   

Oil                                                                

Gortrush               |2                                          

                                                                   

                                                                   

Agricultural                                                       

Dromore road, Omagh    |1                                          

Plumbridge road, Omagh |1                                          

Tallysallagh           |3                                          

Lisnafin               |1                                          

Beltany                |2                                          

Gortin                 |1                                          

                                                                   

Food processing                                                    

Doogary                |4                                          

                                                                   

Sand washing                                                       

Fallaghearn            |3                                          

Carrickmore            |1                                          

                                                                   

Sewage                                                             

Dromore                |1                                          

Omagh                  |2                                          

Knockmoyle             |1                                          

                                                                   

Industrial                                                         

Greencastle            |1                                          

                                                                   

Oil                                                                

Dromore                |1                                          

                                                                   

November 1988                                                      

Agricultural                                                       

Dromore                |1                                          

Gortin                 |1                                          

                                                                   

Food processing                                                    

Doogary                |1                                          

                                                                   

Sand washing                                                       

Mountfield             |1                                          

Greencastle            |3                                          

Carrickmore            |3                                          

Omagh                  |4                                          

                                                                   

Sewage                                                             

Arvalee                |1                                          

Omagh                  |1                                          

Knockmoyle             |1                                          

Drumquin               |1                                          

                                                                   

Industrial                                                         

Ballynatubrit          |1                                          

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Mr. McCusker : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland where the 10 confirmed cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy were found in Northern Ireland ; and what has been done to prevent further outbreaks and to uncover the causes of this disease in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Viggers : There have now been 13 confirmed cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in various parts of the Province. It would not be appropriate to identify individual producers because of the need to


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respect confidentiality as a normal part of the Department of Agriculture's eradication and control policy for any animal disease outbreaks.

The BSE outbreaks have been fully investigated and there is nothing to suggest that the cause is any different from that in Great Britain cases.

In order to minimise the risk of outbreaks of this disease increasing, the Southwood committee's recommendations have been implemented in full.

TRANSPORT

Trunk Roads

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what are his Department's standards for maintenance with respect to grass cutting, sweeping, scavenging of laybys, windblown litter and the emptying of gullies on trunk roads maintained by county councils as agents of his Department ; and if he will review those standards.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Standards for litter clearance on the worst littered sections of motorways are being re-examined.

Standards for these and other routine maintenance activities are set out in the Department's code of practice for routine maintenance. A copy of the code is in the House Library. The code is kept under continual review in consultation with the Department's agents through the Standing Committee on Highway Maintenance. The application of the code is also reviewed at local level and individual standards are adjusted to meet particular circumstances.

Buses

Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he has as to how many bus routes in London have been put out to competitive tender ; and what consequent cost reductions have been achieved.

Mr. Portillo : I understand from London Regional Transport that to date it has put 135 bus routes out to competitive tender. It estimates that this has achieved savings of around 15 per cent. of previous operating costs.

Midland Main Line

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to obtain a copy of the report by consultants commissioned by east midlands local authorities on the future of the midland main line ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo : I have made it clear that I would be interested to see the results of the study commissioned by a group of local authorities on the future of the midland main line. It is for the local authorities to decide whether to send it to me.

Concessionary Fares

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what connection the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee has with his Department ; what representations he has received from the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee that concessionary fares on buses


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might be means-tested in future ; what other representations, including those opposed to this suggestion, he has received ; what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government on this matter ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo : The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee is a statutory body, established under the Transport Act 1985, with responsibility for giving advice to the Secretary of State on matters relating to the transport needs of disabled people. In July 1988, DPTAC submitted a report to the Secretary of State on "Finance for Extra Markets for Public Transport". One of the recommendations in this report was that local authorities should consider targeting their expenditure on concessionary fares more closely to those most in need of such benefits, including in particular those with a mobility handicap. The report did not specifically propose means-testing. We have, however, received a number of letters expressing concern that means-testing for concessionary fares might be introduced.

As the Government confirmed in their reply to the DPTAC report, it will be for local authorities to decide whether to make any changes in their present arrangements in the light of the proposals in the report.

London Buses

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will state the timetable he envisages for the privatisation of London Buses.

Mr. Portillo : No timetable has been set.

Vehicle Reversing (Accidents)

Mr. Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many reportable accidents arising from reversing vehicles have resulted in injuries and deaths for each year since 1979 ; if he is able to categorise these into vehicle types ; and how many have taken place (a) on the highway and (b) off the highway.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The tables show the total number of accidents where at least one vehicle was reversing ; those where at least one of the reversing vehicles was a car ; and those where at least one of the reversing vehicles was a heavy goods vehicle. Only accidents on public highways are reported to the Department.


|c|Accidents involving reversing vehicles: GB:  

1979-1987|c|                                    

         Severity of accidents                  

        |Fatal  |Serious|Slight |Total          

------------------------------------------------

1979    |47     |548    |1,882  |2,477          

1980    |34     |517    |2,089  |2,640          

1981    |37     |538    |2,011  |2,586          

1982    |51     |585    |2,607  |3,243          

1983    |49     |598    |2,792  |3,439          

1984    |43     |588    |2,808  |3,439          

1985    |35     |661    |2,817  |3,513          

1986    |29     |618    |2,926  |3,573          

1987    |38     |612    |2,919  |3,569          


|c|Accidents involving reversing HGVs: GB:      

1979-1987|c|                                    

         Severity of accidents                  

        |Fatal  |Serious|Slight |Total          

------------------------------------------------

1979    |18     |71     |188    |277            

1980    |9      |73     |156    |238            

1981    |16     |54     |166    |236            

1982    |21     |63     |192    |276            

1983    |12     |61     |172    |245            

1984    |18     |61     |195    |274            

1985    |11     |49     |168    |228            

1986    |8      |56     |170    |234            

1987    |12     |60     |171    |243            


|c|Accidents involving reversing HGVs: GB:      

1979-1987|c|                                    

         Severity of accidents                  

        |Fatal  |Serious|Slight |Total          

------------------------------------------------

1979    |18     |71     |188    |277            

1980    |9      |73     |156    |238            

1981    |16     |54     |166    |236            

1982    |21     |63     |192    |276            

1983    |12     |61     |172    |245            

1984    |18     |61     |195    |274            

1985    |11     |49     |168    |228            

1986    |8      |56     |170    |234            

1987    |12     |60     |171    |243            


Column 568

Vehicle Reversing Equipment

Mr. Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many European Community countries require reversing safety systems to be fitted on vehicles ;

(2) if he has any plans to introduce legislation requiring reversing safety systems to be fitted on all new vehicles ; and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Hampson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if in the light of the mounting level of accidents caused while vehicles are reversing, he will consider requiring large commercial vehicles to be fitted with the latest technology to enable obstacles to be detected in the path of a reversing vehicle.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : We have no plans to introduce legislation requiring any class of vehicle to be fitted with reversing safety systems. We know of no such legislation in any member state of the European Community.

Audible reversing alarms are permitted to be used on the road as a safety aid on buses, goods vehicles over 2 tonnes gross weight, refuse vehicles, engineering plant and works trucks.

There are very few serious injury accidents involving vehicles in reverse gear. Most drivers follow the very clear advice given in the "Highway Code."

Road Assessment Proposals

93. Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he is having on the road assessment proposals for London ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The consultants for the London assessment studies are currently assessing and testing a wide range of options. These do not constitute new proposals by the Department for roads or rail routes.

In my many discussions with hon. Members, councillors, and local groups I have taken the opportunity to correct misconceptions about the status of the studies and counter the scare stories about new motorways all over London.

In particular, I have been discussing the inaccuracies and misleading statements associated with a demonstration on 21 April.


Column 569

Each year in London, nearly 500 people die and 50,000 are injured on London's roads. Both public and private transport assessments should help to cut this toll.

Shipping Accidents (Pollution)

94. Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on his Department's role in minimising the effect of pollution after accidents at sea.

Mr. Portillo : The Department of Transport, through its marine pollution control unit exercises the responsibility accepted by Government in 1969 following the Torrey Canyon disaster, for dealing with pollution at sea arising from a shipping accident.

Contracted aerial and vessel dispersant spraying resources, oil recovery equipment or cargo transfer equipment is deployed, as both necessary and practicable, for the clean-up at sea of oil from an accident which threatens United Kingdom coastal, fishery, seabird, ecological amenity or other interests.

The Secretary of State has wide statutory powers to give directions or to take direct action to counter pollution following marine accidents. These extend from directing the owner of a ship, the master or the salvor in possession to take or refrain from taking action of any kind whatsoever, to taking control of the ship or sinking or destroying it.

Traffic Management (Greater London)

Ms. Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria have been adopted by the unit of his Department concerned with traffic management in Greater London for substitution of automatic, or semi -automatic, traffic signals by police on the occasion of routine maintenance works at critical locations.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : During the routine maintenance works at critical locations, permanent traffic signals are maintained wherever possible. Manual traffic control is provided by police officers or traffic wardens when signals are disconnected for short periods. Where a safe electricity supply exists, temporary signals can be provided if work is likely to take longer than one week.

Ms. Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement concerning the arrangements made for traffic control in East India Dock road adjacent to the northern entrance of the Blackwall tunnel over the weekend of 15 and 16 April.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : There were some delays on the A13 and for traffic leaving the Blackwall tunnel on 15 and 16 April. The immediate cause was work on East India Dock road to construct an additional lane to improve access from the A13 to the Isle of Dogs. Advance notice of the roadworks was given to motoring information services. The police were fully involved. We are satisfied that traffic management at this difficult site has been organised as well as the limitations allow.

Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what study has been made by his Department, or what conclusions he has reached, concerning the effect on traffic flows of one-person operated buses in Greater


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