Mr. Mellor : We have received representations from a number of organisations, from Members of Parliament and from members of the public in support of an increase in the provision of Gaelic television programmes.
Mr. Tebbit : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many alleged traffic offences within the Metropolitan police area are currently under consideration for prosecution ; whether that number is increasing or decreasing ; and what was the position two and four years ago.
Mr. Tebbit : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what has been the longest time between the commission of an alleged traffic offence and notification of the intent to prosecute during the past two years ;
(2) what is the average time between the alleged commission of a traffic offence and the notification of the driver concerned of whether a prosecution will be brought.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in the light of new regulations involving payment by the police forces for forensic services, he will consider establishing independent forensic units, along the lines of that based on Strathclyde university ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 266directly for the forensic science services they use. The establishment of forensic science units independent of the Government is a matter for private initiative, and the police would be free to use such units if they wished to do so.
(2) how many cases have been dealt with by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board at the latest available date.
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how much compensation has been paid in (a) Liverpool and (b) Merseyside by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board at the latest available date ;
(2) what is the highest payment by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to a claimant from Liverpool at the latest available date.
Mr. John Patten : The board does not keep information on the payment of compensation by locality. Details of the highest award made each year are given in the board's annual reports, copies of which are in the Library.
(2) what is the amount of compensation awarded by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board at the most recent date.
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he has any proposals to improve the working of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board ; and if he will make a statement ; (2) if he has plans to put the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board on a statutory basis ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. John Patten : We are in close touch with the chairman of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board about the means of tackling the board's acknowledged problems of delay and the increased workload and backlog of cases of which it is the result. The Criminal Justice Act 1988 provides for a criminal injuries compensation scheme closely resembling the present non-statutory arrangements, but the most pressing task is to overcome the board's immediate problems. This must take priority over the introduction of the statutory scheme.
Mr. John Patten : Compensation will generally be available under the owner's insurance or arrangements made by the Motor Insurers' Bureau for injury or death caused by either an uninsured driver or an untraced driver. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board will entertain claims where death or injury is caused by a driver who intentionally drives at the victim. We therefore see no need to extend the criminal injuries compensation scheme.
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the reasons for the delay in resolving the claim of Mr. Terence Anthony Lafferty of Liverpool to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if it is the practice of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to answer letters from solicitors acting for people who have made an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what is the average waiting time for cases to be decided by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board at the most recent convenient date ;
(2) what is the longest waiting time for a case to be accepted by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board at the latest date.
Mr. John Patten : The board does not keep information about waiting times in cases now disposed of. Information about the percentage of cases resolved by the board within certain periods from registration is shown in paragraph 6 of its latest annual report (Cm. 536), a copy of which is in the Library.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The Government's intention to introduce DNA testing into the entry clearance process was announced earlier this year. We will shortly be inviting tenders for the work of carrying out DNA tests. We will make a further announcement about the implementation of the Government scheme when the necessary arrangements have been completed.
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consideration he has given to the proposed directive on the national regulations of firearms certificates ; and if it will be determined by majority vote.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : My hon. Friend is no doubt referring to the Commission's proposals for a Council directive on the control of the acquisition and possession of weapons. The Commission has signalled its intention to put forward a revised draft of the directive, but it has not yet been formally submitted to us. We will of course look at any new proposals very closely, including the legal basis, to ensure that the Commission's plans do not weaken in any way our ability to carry out those checks which we believe necessary to preserve security and maintain public safety.
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what powers have been given to the EEC in relation to the determination of British summer time after the three-year period of consultation permitted to the United Kingdom in terms of EEC document 7876/88.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The position of the EC will be same for the sixth directive on summer time arrangements covering 1993 onwards as for the current fifth directive covering the period 1990 to 1992 inclusive.
Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many representations (i) he and (ii) immigration officers received from Members of Parliament during (a) the first quarter of 1988 (b) the first quarter of 1989 to delay the removal of passengers refused entry at British ports of entry; and, for both periods, how many representations resulted in (i) the delay of the passenger's removal for up to a week, (iii) the delay of the passenger's removal for more than a week and (ii) reversal of the immigration officer's decision.
Mr. Waddington [pursuant to the reply, 28 July 1989, c. 1057] : I regret that the information contained in that reply was incorrect. In the first quarter of 1988 representations received by Ministers resulted in deferment of removal of passengers refused entry in 382 cases. The rest of the information requested is not available centrally.
Mr. Conway : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what advice his Department offers to local authorities seeking to build pedestrian footbridges with transport supplementary grant from his Department with regard to access for the disabled.
Mr. Atkins : We recommend that for schemes supported by TSG local highway authorities should use the technical design standards issued by the Department. The Department's design criteria for footbridges are contained in departmental standard BD29/87. This standard lays particular emphasis on the importance of ensuring that the needs of disabled people are taken into account. It specifies "enhanced criteria" which should be adopted as far as practicable for the benefit of disabled people, such as the provision of both ramps and stairs and a minimum clear width of 2m.
I am arranging for a copy of the standard to be placed in the Library.
Mr. Atkins : The inspector's report on the recent inquiry into the final statutory orders for the A5/A49 Shrewsbury bypass is being considered. The decision will be announced later this month. Subject to that being favourable I hope construction will start next April.
Mr. Atkins : No information is available on makes of cars involved in fatal and serious injury accidents on Britain's roads over the past two years. However, arrangements are now in hand to ensure that this information is recorded for future years.
Mr. Snape : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if, when he next meets the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority, he will discuss with him the incident involving British Midland Airways flight BD 057 at Edinburgh on Sunday 22 October ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. McLoughlin : The statutory responsibility for the safety regulation of United Kingdom civil aviation rests with the Civil Aviation Authority. The incident will be the subject of a mandatory occurrence report submitted by British Midland Airways to the authority, and on receipt of that report, the authority will decide what action needs to be taken. I have drawn the hon. Member's question to the attention of the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority.
Mr. Ward : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will consider changing the regulations relating to learner drivers so that no passengers may be carried other than the experienced driver accompanying the learner driver.
Mr. Evennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has any plans to introduce legislation to impose a maximum speed limit on drivers in the first 12 months following the date on which they obtained a full United Kingdom driving licence ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : We have a major programme of research in hand to cast light on the accident record of learner and newly qualified drivers. As the results become available we shall be considering whether there are any aspects of the driver licensing regime that need to be improved.
Mr. Ward : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has any plans to change the regulations concerning the driving experience of those who accompany learner drivers ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Evennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has any plans to introduce legislation to require those supervising learner drivers to (a) have attained a prescribed minimum age or (b) have held a full driving licence for a specified number of years ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to study the recent critical appraisal of the safety of flasks designed for the air transport of plutonium, presented to the annual conference of the Safety and Reliability Society in Bath in October.
Mr. McLoughlin : The International Atomic Energy Agency's regulations for the safe transport of radioactive materials are subject to continuous review and updating. Any relevant information on this transport will be studied.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what information he possesses on the current considerations by the International Atomic Energy Agency's standing advisory group on the international safety regulations for the carriage of radioactive materials.
Mr. David Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to open an east coast airway for commercial air traffic to serve areas between the north of Scotland and the south of England ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received about the financing of the Mersey tunnels ; what his response has been ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : The financing of the Mersey tunnels is a matter for the Merseyside passenger transport authority. Over the last three years we have had extensive discussions with the authority about the debts of the Mersey tunnels and we have helped to produce projections of the tunnel's financial performance. If the PTA considers that it has a case for Government financial assistance we will be prepared to consider it.
Mr. McLoughlin : Between 1 January 1981 and 31 December 1988, a total of 23 roll-on roll-off vessels have been lost at sea worldwide. The figures for earlier years do not identify losses of roll-on roll-off vessels.
Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to be able to announce his decision on the inspector's report on the public inquiry into the harbour revision order applied for by the Manchester Ship Canal Company.
Mr. McLoughlin : I have been considering, in the light of the inspector's report, whether all the provisions sought in the order properly could and should be included in a harbour revision order, and hope to be able to reach a decision in the reasonably near future.
Mr. McLoughlin : Harbour authorities that are companies or statutory trusts are autonomous bodies running commercial undertakings. Any complaint should be made to the chief executive or chairman, and if
Column 272satisfaction is not obtained the complaint can ultimately be pursued through the courts. For harbours run by local authorities there are also the usual channels for seeking a remedy from the actions of a local authority. In addition, there are two statutory rights of appeal to the Secretary of State : in respect of all harbour authorities, against their dues and, if they are competent harbour authorities under the Pilotage Act 1987, their pilotage charges ; and in respect of a few authorities whose local legislation contains power to license works in the harbour area, against their licensing decisions.
The certification work carried out by VCA staff makes an important contribution to road safety through checks on vehicle and equipment design and quality standards. During the year covered by the report, the VCA handled an increased workload and managed to better its first unit cost target.
Further steps were also taken to move to a businesslike footing with adoption of new accounting methods and the preparation of the first business plan. These will help provide a firm financial structure for the proposed move to executive agency status next spring.
Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Attorney-General if he will list the Government Departments represented on the interdepartmental working party established to oversee work on family law and business following the passage of the Children Bill.
Department of Health
Her Majesty's Treasury
Department of Social Security