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Column 275Thornton West Junction to Thornton South Junction (Fife) Wales
Abercynon to Aberdare (approximately 91 miles)
The following stations have been opened or re-opened on these lines :
Lichfield Trent Valley
The decision to re-open a station or line is a matter for the board and does not need ministerial approval.
Mr. Higgins : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in installing telephones in the drivers' cabs of trains on Network South East ; and when he expects the programme to be completed.
Mr. Portillo : All driver-only operated rolling stock and all new stock on Network South East has cab radio already. Approximately 1, 000 cab radios have been fitted on other trains. In addition, lineside equipment for various lines has either been installed or is on order. The programme is scheduled for completion in 1992.
Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to promote rapid light transport railway systems ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Portillo : We accept that light rail or light rapid transit system have a part to play in improving public transport in some urban areas and we are prepared to consider for central Government grant those systems which are expected to bring benefits in terms of reduced road congestion, environmental improvements, and economic development.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will meet the chairman of British Rail to discuss proposals for the electrification of the Edinburgh-Linlithgow-Glasgow line.
Mr. Portillo : No. It would be for the British Railways board to bring forward such proposals. However, I understand that BR proposes to introduce new class 158 express diesel units on this line in 1990. These units will be fully air-conditioned and capable of speeds of up to 90 mph.
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many new escalators have been built on London Underground stations during the last five years ; how many new ones are planned and at what cost ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Portillo : This is an operational matter for London Underground Limited, but I understand that 26 escalators have entered service in the last five years and that a further 11 are currently under construction.
Mr. Sumberg : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has any plans to change the regulations governing the qualifications of those supervising learner drivers.
Mr. Atkins : I share the public concern about the risks involved where learner drivers are under the supervision of other drivers who are themselves very young and only newly qualified.
I have today issued a consultation paper on our proposals to require a minimum age of 21 and at least three years as the holder of a full driving licence for those who accompany learner drivers. A copy of the document has been placed in the Library.
Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what warnings have been received about the need for extra security at British airports during the Christmas period ; what action has been taken ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. McLoughlin : My right hon. Friend ensures that the level of security required at British airports is appropriate to the threat to civil aviation. The "Threat Advisory" issued by the US State Department on 15 December did not refer to aviation and neither the US Federal Aviation Administration nor my Department judged that additional security measures were necessary at airports. Nevertheless airports have been reminded that it is important that existing security requirements should be scrupulously observed. We do not publicly discuss threat information, or what action is taken as a result of any information.
Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what regulations exist to prevent the emission of smoke from diesel vehicles in use on the highway ; who is responsible for their enforcement ; and if he will provide statistics showing the extent of enforcement of these powers ;
(2) whether he has any plans to introduce new powers to control the emissions of smoke from heavy diesel vehicles in use on the highway.
Column 277Mr. Atkins : Regulation 61 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 prohibits the emission of smoke likely to cause damage to property or injury or danger to persons. The annual tests for buses and heavy goods vehicles conducted by the Department's vehicle inspectorate include a visual check on smoke density. Over the past two years the inspectorate has increased substantially its programme of roadside checks on the condition of goods vehicles and fleet checks at operators' premises. These include a check on smoke emissions. Vehicles can be banned or owners required to rectify defects within a specified period. The total number of roadside and fleet checks in 1988-89 was almost 155,000.
In addition, the police are responsible for day-to-day enforcement of requirements set by the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations which include controls on vehicle emissions. As well as prosecuting offenders, they can require defects to be rectified within a specified period.
There are no plans to alter these powers.
Mr. David Porter : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what conclusions he has reached on a second A12 trunk road crossing of Lake Lothing at Lowestoft ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : Following a report by consultants commissioned by my Department about options for improving the A12 truck road through Lowestoft, we favour a new mid-harbour crossing in the vicinity of the Co- operative Wholesale Society factory. To the north of the river, the bridge will connect with the northern spine road which is to be built as a joint venture between private developers and Suffolk county council. To the south of the river, it will connect with the proposed South Lowestoft relief road.
We believe that this new north-south road will provide better communications for the town of Lowestoft, relieve congestion in the town centre, and provide opportunities to improve the surrounding environment.
My Department will begin public consultations in the spring of 1990.
Mr. Carrington : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he is yet in a position to announce safety and quality of service objectives for London Regional Transport.
Mr. Parkinson : I have today written to the chairman of London Regional Transport in the following terms :
"My predecessor wrote to you on your appointment about the challenges facing London Regional Transport. He asked you to prepare a strategy for the coming years, which could be used as a basis for setting formal objectives for you and your board.
Your response takes the form of the Chairman's Planning Statement', which you are about to publish. In the light of that statement, I am writing to you about the safety and quality of service objectives I wish you to pursue. Before 1 April 1990 I shall settle with you the financial objectives for LRT covering the next three financial years.
LRT and its subsidiaries are responsible for the safe operation of the services they provide. The Fennell Report on the Kings Cross fire underlined the need to give the highest
Column 278priority to safety and to address safety matters explicitly in all LRT's activities. You have undertaken with vigour the task of implementing the Fennell Report's recommendations. You have already fully implemented 73 of the 127 recommendations addressed to LRT or London Underground, and have in hand action on the remaining 54. You have also now established a clear framework for collecting statistics on safety performance, setting safety objectives and monitoring and auditing safety performance at every level of the organisation. This should ensure the progressive improvement in the safety of all the services you provide or secure. I welcome the steps you have taken. I hereby endorse the safety objectives set out in annex A to this letter.
Quality of service on the Underground
Demand for Underground services has grown by more than 70 per cent. since 1982. This has put the Underground under strain and we are all agreed that the quality of service for passengers is not as good as it should be.
Much of passengers' dissatisfaction stems from overcrowding. The only way to deal adequately with the growth in demand is to invest in increasing the capacity of the system. This is why approval has been given for a massive investment programme, including the £900 million major upgrading programme and the extension of the Jubilee Line to service East London and Docklands. Urgent work is in progress on the options for another major new line to relieve congestion. In the shorter term, we must ensure that the most is made of the existing system. I am therefore setting objectives for improvement in such areas as peak capacity, reliability and the availability of lifts and escalators. I shall look to London Underground to meet these as soon as possible and, in any case, no later than 31 March 1992. These objectives are set out in full at annex B to the letter."
Copies of the annexes to this letter have been placed in the House Libraries.
Mr. Frank Cook : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has any plans to introduce legislation implementing the mandatory use of passenger protection smoke hoods for civil aircraft using airports in the United Kingdom.
Mr. McLoughlin : The Civil Aviation Authority is responsible for the regulation of air safety. The authority published a specification for smoke hoods in May 1988. I understand that no smoke hood has yet been shown to meet the specification. The authority has told me that when a suitable hood does exist it will review the arguments for and against the provision of smoke hoods and decide whether a mandatory requirement would be appropriate.
Mr. Aspinwall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if his Department has considered an application for an exhibition relating to the Heathrow express rail link in the Upper Waiting Hall, to commence on 12 February 1990.
Mr. Portillo [holding answer 19 December 1989] : We have received an application from my hon. Friend himself and I will write to him.
10. Mr. Thornton : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what response he has received to the announcement that £2.5 million is to be dedicated to the repair of the Royal Scottish Academy building in Edinburgh.
Mr. Lang : Both the chairman and the director of the National Galleries of Scotland have warmly welcomed the announcement that £2.5 million is to be dedicated to the repair of the Royal Scottish Academy building in Edinburgh.
18. Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will estimate how many people in Scotland will be homeless on 25 December.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : It is not possible to estimate from the information available the number of homeless on a single date in the future.
58. Mr. Nigel Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the factors which have contributed to the increase in homelessnes over the last six years.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The incidence of homelessness increased in the mid-1980s because of social, economic and demographic factors. Over the last three years, the number of households assessed by local authorities as homeless has remained reasonably stable.
19. Mr. Roger King : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what decrease has been achieved in waiting lists in the Scottish Health Service over the last year.
34. Mr. Devlin : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what decrease has been achieved in waiting lists in the Scottish Health Service over the last year.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : In the year to 31 March 1989 the in-patient waiting list in Scotland fell by 9.2 per cent.
20. Mr. Ernie Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any plans to increase the numbers of students from manual working class backgrounds gaining access to university education.
Mr. Lang : We have taken steps to improve participation in higher education among all groups. Recent changes in secondary education will increase the numbers of those staying on at school and our Scottish wider access programme will benefit those without standard entry qualifications.
21. Sir Nicholas Fairbairn : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the expenditure per capita in the National Health Service in Scotland ; what was the total expenditure on the National Health Service in Scotland in 1979 ; and what will be the total expenditure in 1989.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : Spending per head in the Health Service in Scotland this year was £550, an increase of 33.5 per cent. in real terms since 1979.
Mr. Galbraith : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give for each health board the amount of money spent on press and publicity in each of the past three years.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : This information is not held centrally.
67. Mr. Strang : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many health boards are currently placing unplanned restrictions on expenditure in order to reduce or eliminate any likely deficit at the end of this financial year.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : I know of no health boards which are placing unplanned restrictions on expenditure to reduce or eliminate deficits.
22. Mr. Wray : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what calculations he has made about the numbers applying to enter central institutions in Scotland after the introduction of a student loans scheme.
Mr. Lang : My Department does not try to estimate applications for places at central institutions, but I have no reason to believe that the introduction of the top-up loans scheme will discourage entry into higher education.
78. Mrs. Ray Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received regarding the Government's plans to introduce top-up loans in Scotland.
Mr. Lang : My right hon. and learned Friend has received around 250 such representations covering a range of issues relating to the introduction of top-up student loans.
55. Mr. Dunnachie : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received about the impact of student loans upon Scottish education.
Mr. Lang : Approximately one third of the representations on top-up loans received by my right hon. and learned Friend since the publication of the White Paper "Top-Up Loans for Students" (Cm. 520), referred specifically to the potential impact of the proposals on the Scottish education system.
23. Mr. Bevan : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what measures he is taking to improve public safety at football grounds.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : I have asked the football authorities, the police and other emergency services, as well as local authorities to implement the recommendations in Lord Justice Taylor's interim report in order to improve public safety at football grounds.
24. Mr. Patrick Thompson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many patients were treated in the Scottish Health Service in 1978-79 ; and how many were treated in 1988.
Column 281Mr. Michael Forsyth : In 1978-79 6,024,165 patients were treated and in 1988-89 6,873,112--an increase of 848,947.
25. Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many representations he has received about the proposals for the reform of the legal profession in Scotland since the publication of the White Paper.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Four.
26. Mr. Favell : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received about morale in the police force in Scotland ; and if he will make a statement.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : My right hon. and learned Friend has received some representations about the effect on police morale of the removal of the rates element of rent allowance. He has taken these representations into account in bringing forward regulations which will restore to officers whose circumstances have not changed the level of rent allowance, including the rates element, which they were receiving on 31 March. The regulations will come into effect on 22 December. I hope that police authorities will be able to make payments backdated to 1 April as soon as possible.