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31. Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received urging him to seek a debate on the report of the Transport Select Committee on the future of the railways.
Mr. Portillo : The last report of the Transport Select Committee concerned with railways was on the financing of rail services, to which the Government responded in March 1988. We have received no representations for a debate on this report.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : We have received representations on various aspects of this assessment study from the London local authority associations, the London planning advisory committee, individual local authorities, national organisations with an interest in transport matters, amenity groups, residents associations, various other bodies, and members of the public.
The consultants are expected to report in the summer. Their report will be published as soon as possible.
34. Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will discuss with the chairman of British Rail the possibility of using the former Severn tunnel junction site to provide a road-rail link to south -east Wales.
Mr. Portillo : British Rail is currently examining, in consultation with local interests, possible sites for road-rail freight terminals in planning for future channel tunnel freight services. Its proposals will be set out in the plan which it has to produce by the end of this year under section 40 of the Channel Tunnel Act.
|£ million ------------------------------ 1986-87 |235 1987-88 |230
Figures for expenditure in 1988-89 are not yet available.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will call for a report from the chairman of London Regional Transport ascertaining when it is planned that all PVC cable on the London Underground will be replaced by low smoke zero halogen cable ; and if he will provide a special grant from Her Majesty's Government to speed up this replacement programme ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) if he will call for a report from the chairman of London Regional Transport to ascertain how many electricians are employed on the London Underground ; how many are involved in fitting and maintaining cable underground ; how many are fully working on the LSZH programme ; and if he will provide a special grant from Her Majesty's Government to London Underground Ltd. for the employment of more electricians ; and if he will make a statement ;
(3) what assessment he has made of the implications for safety of potential toxicity and thick smoke resulting from a fire of (a) PVC cabling and (b) arcing cables, on the London Underground.
Mr Portillo : The assessment of safety on the Underground is in the first instance a matter for London Underground Ltd. I understand that the Underground stopped installing PVC cable some five years ago and that a replacement programme is under way.
London Underground Ltd. and its consultants are now reconsidering the priorities within this programme, using hazard analysis techniques. The railway inspectorate is being kept fully informed. Arcing occurs when the cable insulation fails. The risk can be reduced by ensuring that the circuit breakers provided to detect arcing and switch off the power are maintained in the correct setting.
The numbers and deployment of electricians are management matters for London Underground Ltd. It is for LUL to determine appropriate staffing levels in the light of LRT's statutory duty to have due regard to efficiency, economy and safety of operation. The costs involved will be taken into account in the annual discussions of LRT's financing requirements.
Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he is proposing that children aged one to three years should be required to use adult seat belts where no more suitable restraint is available ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : This issue was discussed in our consultation document "Rear Seat Belt Wearing by Children". Most experts were against making it a legal requirement that very young children must be restrained in
Column 335adult belts when appropriate child restraints are not available. We will take this into account in preparing the regulations which we plan to bring before Parliament for approval very shortly. No responsible parents should wait for the law before properly restraining their children in the car.
Sir Peter Emery : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will introduce new statutory standards based on the mass of emissions from commercial vehicles and backed by regular roadside checks.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : We shall consult interested parties shortly on draft regulations to introduce the limits on the mass of gaseous emissions as set by Community directive 88/77/EEC. The Commission is expected to propose a second stage of limits later this year, which will also include a mass emission limit for particulates. The Department has over the past two years substantially increased its programme of roadside checks on the condition of heavy goods vehicles. This includes a check on smoke emissions. We are considering how future emission standards might most effectively be enforced.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will meet the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority to discuss the implementation of the recommendations made following the Manchester aircraft disaster in 1985 that seats in rows adjacent to the overwing emergency exit should be removed, and that the width in the gap in the forward galley partition should be increased ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The statutory responsibility for the regulation of air transport safety lies with the Civil Aviation Authority. I have drawn the hon. Member's question to the attention of the chairman of the CAA and have asked him to write to the hon. Member direct.
Sir David Price : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he intends to take to ensure that all offshore supply vessels operating in the British zone of the North sea under foreign flags are manned to levels compatible with those laid down by his Department for United Kingdom registered vessels ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Portillo Manning levels on foreign flag offshore supply vessels are checked in the course of port state control inspections and confirmed to be in accordance with the safe manning certificate issued by the flag state.
Mr. David Porter : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received about roads in Suffolk and Norfolk following publication of the White Paper, "Roads for Prosperity".
Mr. Peter Bottomley : We have not yet set a timetable for these improvements. The first step is to appoint design agents. This will be done in the coming months. A roads report will be issued later this year, setting out the expanded road programme in detail.
Mr. Portillo : The origin of the Ave's cargo is not known, but I understand it was loaded at Maputo, Mozambique. The country of origin of a cargo is not a matter which is relevant to the responsibilities of the Department.
Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he has about a collision between a Norwegian fishing boat and a French Agousta class submarine off Shetland on Monday 22 May ; what inquiries have been carried out into the collision ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Portillo : During the afternoon of 22 May Her Majesty's Coastguard rescue centre in Aberdeen received a report that the nets of the Norwegian trawler Strand Senior had been fouled by a French submarine. The Coastguard established that the trawler was in no danger.
The reported position of the incident was 40 miles north north west of Unst and thus well outside United Kingdom territorial waters. Any further investigation is therefore for the French and Norwegian authorities.
Mr. Prescott : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if there are any plans to include private advertising material with the V11 vehicle excise duty forms issued by the DVLC in Swansea ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Prescott : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport who will be responsible for meeting the full costs incurred in strengthening Britain's road bridges in order to cope with the introduction of 40-tonne lorries.
Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether the proposal to construct a northern bypass for Exeter from the M5 originated in a proposal put to his Department by Devon county council as the highway authority ;
(2) whether the proposal to construct a northern bypass for Exeter from the M5 is a scheme originating in his Department, without consultation with, or the approval of, Devon county council.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : A northern bypass of Exeter was first mooted when alternative routes for the M5 were under investigation in the mid- 1960s. This work was updated before my right hon. Friend decided to include
Column 338the scheme in "Roads for Prosperity". Devon county council passed a resolution last year requesting the addition of an Exeter northern bypass to the programme.
Mr. Prescott : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what evaluation his Department has made of the safety of air transport of (a) plutonium metal, (b) plutonium dioxide powder, (c) isotopes of enriched uranium and (d) radio isotopes for nuclear and industrial uses.
Mr. Channon : The transport of such materials has been studied by the advisory committee on the safe transport of radioactive materials (ACTRAM). The results have been published in two reports : "The Transport of Radioactive Materials for Medical and Industrial Use" and "The Transport of Civil Plutonium by Air". Copies of both reports have been placed in the Library.
Enriched uranium, being potentially less hazardous than plutonium, does not call for a separate study.
Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many members of staff of the X-ray department at the Southern general hospital have suffered health problems as a result of excessive chemical fumes arising out of the X-ray process.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : This is a matter for the Greater Glasgow health board, but I understand from the board that following health screening, three members of staff were identified as having allergic sensitivity to the chemicals used in the X-ray processing.
Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what investigations have been carried out to determine whether an excess of chemical fumes exists or existed in the X-ray department of the Southern general hospital ; what were the findings ; when they were made known to management ; what recommendations were made ; and what remedial action has been taken.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : This is a matter for the Greater Glasgow health board, but I understand from the board that in May and December 1988 two reports on the emission of chemical fumes in X-ray departments were produced by the board's occupational health department and by the Health and Safety Executive respectively. On both occasions the concentrations in the atmosphere of the substances measured were found to be well within the current occupational exposure limits. As a result of its own investigations and the recommendations of the Health and Safety Executive, a number of measures including better ventilation have been introduced by the health board to improve the working conditions in the departments concerned.
Mr. Wray : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what response he has given to the observations and criticisms of the Medical Research Council on the White Paper, "Working for Patients", regarding medical (a) education and (b) research in Scotland.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : The comments of the Medical Research Council on the White Paper have been acknowledged and are being considered along with the many responses received from other bodies. They will be taken into account in the implementation of the White Paper proposals in Scotland.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Detailed information on levels of chlorine in public water supplies in Scotland is not held centrally. Water put into supply normally has a level of residual chlorine of 0.1-0.5 mg per litre according to circumstances.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : My right hon. and learned Friend has received no applications from the islands councils for a lowering of standards for their discharges during the current year. On the mainland, standards are set by the river purification boards which are responsible for giving consents to discharge effluent in their areas.
Mrs. Ray Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many guest houses in (a) Scotland and (b) Argyll and Bute will be liable to pay both non-domestic rates and the personal community charge for everyone who lives on the premises.
Mr. Lang : This information is not held centrally. Where, however a person is solely or mainly resident in premises which are subject to non- domestic rates, there is a reduction in the valuation for rating of the property to take account of this.
Mrs. Ray Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his Department's estimate of the average difference for owners of guest houses in Scotland between the previous rating system and the current system whereby owners of guest houses catering for more than six people are liable to pay both non-domestic rates and the personal community charge for everyone living on the premises.
Mrs. Ray Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will consider exempting from liability for the standard community charge accommodation which is unoccupied and where the person who would otherwise be liable for payment is registered elsewhere for the purpose of undertaking a full-time course of education.
Column 340moving to another area for educational purposes may be eligible for a two homes allowance which is payable by the Scottish Education Department as an addition to the student grant.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish a table for each district council in Scotland of the total yield of the community charge payment by the districts to the region in the current financial year.
Mr. Lang : The figures given in the table are the estimated yield in 1989-90 to the relevant regional councils of community charge payments made by residents and standard community charge payers within each of the districts of Scotland.
Estimated Yield of Regional Community Charge Districts |£000 ---------------------------------------------- Berwickshire |2,565 Ettrick and Lauderdale |4,428 Roxburgh |4,780 Tweeddale |2,026 Clackmannan |6,825 Falkirk |20,974 Stirling |11,695 Annandale and Eskdale |4,981 Nithsdale |7,778 Stewartry |3,368 Wigtown |4,177 Dunfermline |20,924 Kirkcaldy |24,190 North East Fife |11,119 Aberdeen City |30,134 Banff and Buchan |11,702 Gordon |9,702 Kincardine and Deeside |6,588 Moray |12,083 Badenoch and Strathspey |1,677 Caithness |3,589 Inverness |8,164 Lochaber |2,630 Nairn |1,371 Ross and Cromarty |6,377 Skye and Lochalsh |1,711 Sutherland |1,958 East Lothian |18,304 Edinburgh City |95,541 Midlothian |17,236 West Lothian |29,143 Argyll and Bute |10,267 Bearsden and Milngavie |6,057 Clydebank |7,314 Clydesdale |8,585 Cumbernauld and Kilsyth |8,862 Cumnock and Doon Valley |6,425 Cunninghame |20,697 Dumbarton |11,597 East Kilbride |12,258 Eastwood |8,565 Glasgow City |106,491 Hamilton |15,505 Kilmarnock and Loudoun |11,935 Kyle and Carrick |17,250 Monklands |15,027 Motherwell |21,616 Renfrew |29,652 Strathkelvin |12,857 Angus |15,427 Dundee City |28,484 Perth and Kinross |20,975 |------ Total District |797,922 Note: The estimated figures do not take account of Community Water Charges.
Mr. Salmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if, further to his answer of 23 May, Official Report, column 515, he will seek and evaluate estimates from the Scottish Fishermen's Federation and the Scottish Fishermen's Organisation on the impact on Scottish fleet costs in a full year of a 5 per cent. interest rate rise.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : I have already noted the estimate of £7.5 million which the hon. Member has quoted and which may have been provided by the Scottish Fishermen's Federation. As I indicated previously, many elements affect the impact of individual cost charges on overall profitability. My noble Friend the Minister of State will meet representatives of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation tomorrow to discuss a paper which the federation submitted to him.
Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland which media outlets were notified by the Scottish Office of the home visit by the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) to Mrs. Sinclair on Sunday 14 May ; what advance notice of press involvement was given to Mrs. Sinclair ; and what were the costs to public funds.
Mr. Rifkind : The Scottish information office arranged for media representatives to be told of the visit of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State responsible for health and education to the home of Mrs. Margaret Sinclair and issued a press statement on my hon. Friend's behalf. The statement was sent to the Glasgow Herald, Scotsman, the Daily Record, the Scottish Daily Express, the Aberdeen Press and Journal, the Dundee Courier, Scottish Television, the BBC, Radio Forth and Radio Clyde. No advance notice of press involvement was given to Mrs. Sinclair. The total cost to public funds is estimated at approximately £40.
Mr. Kennedy : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to be in a position to respond to the letter of 19 April from the hon. Member for Ross, Cromarty and Skye on matters of concern to shellfish growers.
Mr. Dunnachie : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will extend the Property Services Agency policy whereby 1 per cent. of the capital expenditure on major building projects is devoted to an arts involvement to include the capital programmes of local authorities.
Estimated total rate income 1988-89 |£ million ---------------------------------------------- Borders |22.7 Central |86.1 Dumfries and Galloway |35.9 Fife |124.8 Grampian |156.9 Highland |60.0 Lothian |290.4 Strathclyde |740.0 Tayside |114.2 Islands Councils Orkney |9.1 Shetland |50.4 Western Isles |6.7 |------- Total regions and islands |1,697.2 Notes: 1. Rate income is less Domestic Rate Relief. 2. Estimated figures calculated using actual penny rate products, rateable values and rate poundages from "Rating Review". 3. Figures exclude rates collected by the Regions on behalf of the District Councils.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he intends publishing a list of hospitals and other medical units that have expressed an interest in becoming self governing ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : Health boards in Scotland have not yet been asked to invite from hospitals and other units expressions of interest in self-governing status. I shall be discussing this with health board chairmen later this month. I then intend to make rapid progress in identifying those hospitals and so on that wish to consider becoming self- governing. In the meantime, I have received a number of informal expressions of interest.