Mr. Skinner : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received seeking the introduction of free television licences for retirement pensioners ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gareth Wardell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has any plans to permit war widows the same concession with regard to television licences as residents in sheltered accommodation.
Mr. Renton : The concessionary TV licence is available to retirement pensioners and disabled people who live in residential or nursing homes, or in equivalent sheltered housing provided by a local authority or a housing association. There are no plans to extend the concession.
Mr. Franks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable of Cumbria as to any investigations being undertaken into the activities of former directors and executives of Barrow Borough Transport Ltd. arising from the finding of the administrators appointed to oversee the company.
Mr. Tredinnick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he has taken since receiving a request from the Independent Broadcasting Authority that representations be made to the Irish Government seeking alteration to the Radio Tara, Atlantic 252, aerial siting or its configuration.
Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many rule 43 prisoners are held in the segregational unit at Her Majesty's prison, Leicester ; and what proposals he has for improving the conditions in this unit.
Mr. Douglas Hogg [holding answer 6 June 1989] : On 5 June 1989, one prisoner was held in the segregation unit at Leicester prison under rule 43 for the maintenance of good order or discipline. There are no proposals for improving the conditions in that unit.
Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the extent and effect on the running of gym, exercise and education periods of staff shortages at Her Majesty's prison Leicester ; and if he has any plans to reverse this situation.
Mr. Douglas Hogg [holding answer 6 June 1989] : The PE department currently has a full complement of four full-time PE officers and the PE programme does not suffer from staff shortages. However, for the 12 months prior to 15 May 1989 the department did run with one PE officer short. This caused 90 classes to be cancelled. Nevertheless, the inmates spent some 29,248 hours on physical education from May 1988 to May 1989.
Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the 82 states which voted for the adoption of the 1978 Vienna convention on succession of states in respect of treaties ; and if he will indicate which of those countries have moved to ratification.
Mr. Eggar : According to the official records of the conference, the Vienna convention on succession of states in respect of treaties was adopted on 22 August 1978 by 76 votes in favour (including the United Kingdom) to none against with four abstentions. Subsequently two of those countries which had abstained informed the UN Secretariat that they had received authorisation to support the convention. This was not a roll call vote and the records do not list who among the 94 participating countries voted in favour. As at 31 December 1988 the following countries had ratified the convention : Dominica, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Morocco, Seychelles, Tunisia and Yugoslavia.
Mr. Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress of his Department's studies of Soviet involvement in the Katyn massacre taking account of the recent statement by the Polish Government on this matter.
Mr. Waldegrave : We are following developments closely. There is substantial circumstantial evidence pointing to Soviet responsibility for the massacre. We urge the Soviet authorities to help establish the facts once and for all.
Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has on Vietnamese troop withdrawals from Kampuchea ; and what development he envisages in Her Majesty's Government's policies on recognition of (a) the coalition Government of democratic Kampuchea or (b) the state of Cambodia PRK.
We recognise states, not Governments, and have dealings with neither the CGDK nor the PRK. We currently for see no change in this policy.
Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussion Her Majesty's Government have had with the Egyptian authorities about the use of torture of political detainees in Egypt.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received during the present Parliament about the abduction and taking abroad by their foreign- born fathers of the children of United Kingdom citizen mothers ; what information he has of the numbers of such children and the countries where they are now believed to reside ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar [pursuant to the reply, 23 May 1989, c. 455] : Foreign and Commonwealth consular records are kept on an individual case-by -case basis. However, it has been possible to identify 56 cases in which Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers have received, during the present Parliament, representations about British children who have been taken overseas or are being kept overseas against the wishes of their mothers in the United Kingdom. The following table gives details of the number of cases together with the countries to which the children have been taken or in which they are believed to be being kept.
In five of these cases--one in Cyprus, two in the United States of America, one in Yemen Arab Republic and one in Yugoslavia--custody of one or more of the children concerned has now been restored to their mothers in the United Kingdom.
|Country --------------------------------------------------------- Afghanistan |1 Algeria |3 Chile |1 Cyprus |3 France |1 India |1 Iran |3 Libya |1 Malaysia |1 Morocco |2 Netherlands |1 New Zealand |2 Pakistan |9 Saudi Arabia |4 Singapore |1 Spain |3 Sri Lanka |1 Thailand |1 United Arab Emirates |3 United States of America |9 Yemen Arab Republic |3 Yugoslavia |2
Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has now received British Rail's submission for the electrification of the cross city line from Lichfield to Redditch via Birmingham New Street.
Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many motor car axle-load movements of 12-cwt could be undertaken to equate with the equivalent damage caused by 1,000 12-ton axle-load lorries.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Except for special vehicles, 12-ton axle loads are not allowed. The road wear from 1,000 12-ton axle-load movements would be about the same as from 160 million 12-cwt axle loads.
Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of how much the kinetic energy as affecting road surfaces has increased through the raising of speed limits (a) of lorries from 50 to 60 mph and (b) of coaches from 60 to 70 mph.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Detailed research into this aspect of road wear is still in progress. The interplay of the different vehicle forces and suspension types is complex, and the effect on the road surface varies according to speed and loading. Current indications are that, at higher speeds, dynamic effects increase the loading on road surfaces. The increases are small and are countered by the improved load spreading properties of most roads at such speeds. The research programme is aimed at determining where the balance between these opposing effects lies.
Mr. Franks : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what date Barrow-in-Furness borough council applied to him for approval for the council to guarantee with National Westminster bank plc the overdraft facilities of Barrow Borough Transport Ltd. ; and what was his reply.
Column 139approval to guarantee an overdraft facility on 12 August 1988 and submitted further information in support of this application on 16 September and 13 October. The application was, however, overtaken by subsequent events leading up to the appointment of administrators on 21 December.
Mr. Franks : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) on what date Barrow-in-Furness borough council applied to him to make loans to Barrow Borough Transport Ltd. ; and what was his reply ; (2) what information he has as to the total amount of loans made by the Barrow-in- Furness borough council to Barrow Borough Transport Ltd. and as to between what dates these loans were made ; and whether he gave his prior consent to the making of such loans under section 79 of the Transport Act 1985.
Mr. Portillo : We were informed in December 1988 by the council that it had made certain payments on behalf of the company between October 1986 and March 1987 and were asked whether consent was needed. We indicated that retrospective consent was not possible. Otherwise no application for consent to loans has been received and I have no information on loans made by the council to the company. The council does not need the Secretary of State's consent to make loans in connection with the provision or improvement of assets, provided that such loans are on terms no more favourable than those on which the authority can itself borrow.
Mr. Franks : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he has as to (a) how many directors were appointed at any one time to the board of directors of Barrow Borough Transport Ltd., (b) how many of these directors were also councillors on Barrow-in-Furness borough council and (c) the financial status of such appointees.
Mr. Franks : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he has as to (a) on what date administrators were appointed by Barrow Borough Transport Ltd. and (b) what the total amount of indebtedness by Barrow Borough Transport Ltd. to Barrow-in-Furness borough council was at the date of the appointment of the administrators ; and whether he gave his consent to the appointment of these administrators.
Mr. Portillo : Administrators were appointed on 21 December. We understand from the council that £628,000 was owed to them by the company. The Secretary of State's consent was not required to the appointment of administrators, which was made by the courts following an application by the directors of the company under the Insolvency Act 1986. The Secretary of State was, however, kept informed by the council and made clear that he had no objection to the council's action in connection with the appointment of administrators.
Mr. Franks : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he has as to the amounts Barrow-in-Furness borough council transferred to Barrow Borough Transport Ltd. between 6 October 1988 and 10 November 1988 ; and whether his prior consent was sought for such transfers.
Mr. Portillo : No, and we have no information about any such mortgage. Public transport companies are, however, entitled to borrow from banks by way of temporary loans or overdrafts without the Secretary of State's consent, and may offer property as security for such borrowing.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effect of the abolition of fuel duty rebate on (a) bus fares and (b) bus services in sparsely populated rural areas.
Mr. Portillo : We have estimated in 1988 that, assuming all else stayed the same in the local bus industry, the abolition of fuel duty rebate would result in either an increase in fares of some 13 per cent., supposing the whole effect was on fares, or a decrease in bus miles of some 12 per cent., supposing the whole effect was on bus miles. In practice it is likely that there would be some combination of these two effects. No separate estimate has been made of the effect on bus services in sparsely populated rural areas.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : We intend to introduce the new accompanied motor cycle riding test, for both motor cycles and mopeds, throughout Great Britain on Monday 2 October 1989. The examiner, instead of conducting the test on foot, will accompany the candidate on another motor cycle (or sometimes in a car) giving directions by radio link. This will make the test more rigorous. It will cover more ground. The examiner will see the entirety of the candidate's performance in the prevailing road and traffic conditions. The change in the test has been generally welcomed.
The test will be available from 212 driving test centres throughout the country.
Because of the extra costs involved in providing an accompanied test (provision of examiners' motor cycles, protective clothing and mobile radio equipment) it is proposed that the current test fee of £16.50 be increased to £24, compared with £18, with effect from 5 June for a car test. We are consulting all interested organisations on the change in regulations to effect this increase.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Four major maintenance schemes will be carried out over the next few years to renew completely the southbound carriageway to enable it to carry the traffic expected well into the next century.
The first of these contracts has recently been completed to the north of junction 26.
Every effort will be made to minimise inconvenience to road users during the works, which will be programmed to avoid peak holiday periods.
The decision to do the work following a study of the long-term maintenance needs of this length of M5 which was commissioned by Somerset county council at the Department's request.
Sir Hal Miller : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made on the availability of unleaded petrol at motorway petrol service areas since the hon. Member's reply from the Minister for Roads and Traffic of 16 February, Official Report, column 294.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State for the Environment and I are pleased that unleaded petrol is now available at all motorway service areas. The number of unleaded petrol pumps at sites is being increased to meet demand.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will uprate to 1989-90 prices the figures for investment by British Rail in the reply given to the hon. Member for Pembroke on 6 April, Official Report, columns 263-64.
|£ million cash |£ million 1989-90 prices ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1948 |40 |603 1949 |44 |640 1950 |43 |624 1951 |41 |548 1952 |38 |468 1953 |56 |666 1954 |63 |749 1955 |68 |771 1956 |90 |966 1957 |120 |1,235 1958 |134 |1,324 1959 |154 |1,512 1960 |147 |1,427 1961 |130 |1,220 1962 |94 |855 1963 |73 |646 1964 |83 |710 1965 |92 |748 1966 |81 |632 1967 |65 |488 1968 |58 |423 1969 |39 |267 1970 |48 |305 1971 |59 |346 1972 |73 |397 1973 |81 |410 1974 |103 |456 1975 |157 |546 1976 |176 |534 1977 |193 |511 1978 |208 |494 1979 |248 |518 1980 |304 |529 1981 |277 |433 1982 |243 |352 1983 |252 |347 1984<1> |280 |368 1985-86 |399 |491 1986-87 |399 |475 1987-88 |526 |594 1988-89 |596 |<2>629 <1> 1984-5 was a 15 month financial period. The figure shown for 1984 is the 12 month internally reported result. <2> forecast outturn.
The figures include investment in Freightliners, BRML and BREL but exclude the laying of continuous welded track which BR do not now classify as investment.
Indicative figures for BR's plans for future investment (excluding investment in BREL, which is being sold, and in the proposed high speed link to the Channel tunnel) are :
|£ million ------------------------------ 1989-90 |781 1990-91 |865 1991-92 |928 1992-93 |865
In order to show the most consistent picture the figures in the table include some elements of "corporate" as well as "railway" investment. BR's standard definitions of these have changed over the years. The figures have been adjusted to current values by the most recent indices. They show that there was a high level of investment during the modernisation programme of the late 1950s and early 1960s. BR's route mileage now is 45 per cent. less than it was in the peak investment year of 1959, but passenger mileage is currently at broadly the same levels as in 1959.
Mr. Channon : I successfully negotiated a satisfactory end-date for the United Kingdom derogations from the Community maximum lorry weight limits. Against a Commission proposal that our derogation should end in 1996 I insisted that we needed more time to bring sufficient of our bridges up to suitable strength. It was a major achievement that the 40 tonne gross and 11.5 tonne drive axle weight limits will not apply in the United Kingdom until 1 January 1999. The Council also agreed to an improved inter- regional air services directive ; a regulation to improve the working of air transport computer reservation systems, but with suitable data protection ; a directive on road haulage statistics ; a Resolution highlighting the need for improved co-operation in air traffic control ; and conclusions reaffirming the need to make progress in the Community's
Column 143transit negotiations with Austria, Switzerland and Yugoslavia. The Commission's proposal on charging infrastructure costs to heavy goods vehicles was referred to Finance ministers. Against the United Kingdom's wishes, but on qualified majority voting, the Council agreed to increase the maximum permitted length of articulated vehicles from 15.5 to 16.5 metres ; and to adopt a measure requiring a minimum tyre tread depth of 1.6 millimetres over three quarters of tyres' width.
There was discussion but no agreement on a proposed short-term road haulage cabotage experiment ; blood alcohol levels for drivers ; the wearing of seat belts ; and west Africa shipping.
The Commission presented a proposal on shipping "positive measures" and a revised proposal for Community spending on transport infrastructure. There was some general discussion on the environment and transport under "any other business".
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the outcome of the Council meeting on heavier lorries on 5 June ; and what are the implications for the United Kingdom and roads and bridge expenditure.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : We agreed that 40-tonne lorries will not reach British roads until 1999. We succeeded in persuading other member states that an earlier end-date would be premature. This date will give us the time needed for our bridges to be adequately strengthened. The strengthening programme is already underway. There are no new expenditure implications on trunk roads. We shall be talking further to local authorities to consider any implications for their programme.
The Council also agreed on a work programme for improving lorries so that by the late 1990s they should be fitted with road-friendly suspensions which will be less damaging to roads and bridges, safer, quieter and better for the environment.
Column 144--that is, those of at least three months' duration--between the Civil Service and industrial or commercial organisations increased by 7 per cent. in 1988 to 505. There was a slight decrease--of some 3 per cent.--in the number of long-term secondments between the Civil Service and other organisations, of which there were 499 in 1988. On 1 March 1989, my right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and I launched the Bridge programme to increase contact between Government and business. I am confident that, building on the substantial level of interchange achieved in recent years, this programme will provide a valuable boost to secondments and lead to even higher numbers of people being seconded between the Civil Service and other organisations.
A copy of the 1988 interchange report has been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement setting out the considerations he takes into account in establishing whether the pound is overvalued or undervalued against (a) the deutschmark and (b) other principal currencies.
Mr. Lilley : The considerations the Government take into account in formulating their monetary policy, in which the exchange rate plays a key role, were set out in my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget speech on 14 March, at columns 294-309.
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement setting out the considerations which govern his policy in relation to the level of the pound sterling against other currencies.
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now specify the considerations which would make the time appropriate to join the exchange rate mechanism of the European monetary system.
Mr. Denzil Davies : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Customs officers were in post at the ports of (a) Fishguard, (b) Pembroke Dock and (c) Holyhead as at (i) 5 April 1979 (ii) 5 April 1984 and (iii) 5 April 1989.
|1979 |1984 |1989 ---------------------------------- Fishguard |21 |22 |21 Pembroke |17 |<1>18|<2>20 Holyhead |45 |39 |67 <1> excludes four mobile staff not solely engaged in port duties. <2> excludes 14 mobile staff.
Sir Anthony Meyer : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the numbers of new value added tax registrations for businesses with registered addresses in Wales for the calendar years 1987, 1988 and for 1989 to date.