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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 17 July 1990

NATIONAL FINANCE

Civil Service Pensions

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his reply to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe on 4 July, Official Report, column 577, if he will now state to what extent, either implicitly or explicitly, pensions were taken into account in each of the years from 1960 onwards in determining home civil service pay ; and if he has a precise figure for the extent that pensions were taken into account for any particular year.

Mr. Major : Civil service pensions are an important part of the total remuneration package and are fully taken into account in setting pay levels. Assessments of the value of the civil service pension scheme have been made for the purposes of pay negotiations under the previous pay comparability arrangements and under the pay determination framework introduced as part of the new flexible pay arrangements. In 1980, the last year of the earlier arrangements, the reduction in pay levels averaged over men and women to take account of civil service pensions was 7.9 per cent.

VAT

Mr. Gregory : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what are the value added tax rates in each European Community state in respect of hotel accomodation and restaurant meals ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ryder [holding answer 16 July 1990] : The information requested is contained in the publication "VAT in Europe", published by the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation, a copy of which is located in the economic affairs section of the House of Commons Library.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Firearms Certificates

Mr. Wiggin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list by police area the number of firearms certificates and shotgun certificates which were in force in England and Wales on 31 December 1989.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The information requested is not yet available. The latest information, for the number of firearms certificates and shotgun certificates on issue at 31 December 1988, is shown by police force area in tables 2 and 4 of the Home Office statistical bulletin 18/89, a copy of which is in the Library.


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Working Men's Clubs

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many representations he has received from organisations in England and Wales in relation to police right of entry to working men's clubs.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I have received 31 such representations, all from working men's clubs.

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has any plans to seek to amend the law relating to police right of entry to working men's clubs.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : We have no plans to amend the law in this respect.

Prisons (Suicides)

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, pursuant to his answer on suicides by prison officers in Brixton prison, Official Report, 3 July, column 485, he will give the figures for suicides in other local and trainer prisons in 1989.

Mr. Mellor : The table gives, for each prison service establishment, the number of inmates who died by their own hand in 1989 and, of these cases, the number in which verdicts of suicide were returned at coroners' inquests.

Before 1 January 1990 no central record was kept of the causes of deaths of prison officers. That information is therefore not readily available and could not be obtained except at disproportionate cost.


Deaths of inmates of Her Majesty's prison service establishments                  

at their own hand in 1989                                                         

Establishment         |Suicide       |Other verdicts|Total self-                  

                      |verdicts                     |inflicted                    

                                                    |deaths                       

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

Acklington            |-             |-             |-                            

Albany                |-             |-             |-                            

Aldington             |-             |-             |-                            

Ashford               |-             |-             |-                            

Ashwell               |-             |-             |-                            

Askham Grange         |-             |-             |-                            

Aylesbury             |-             |-             |-                            

Bedford               |-             |-             |-                            

Birmingham            |-             |-             |-                            

Blantyre House        |-             |-             |-                            

Blundeston            |-             |-             |-                            

Bristol               |1             |-             |1                            

Brixton               |2             |6             |8                            

Brockhill             |-             |-             |-                            

Buckley Hall          |-             |-             |-                            

Bullwood Hall         |-             |-             |-                            

Camp Hill             |-             |-             |-                            

Campsfield House      |-             |-             |-                            

Canterbury            |2             |1             |3                            

Cardiff               |-             |1             |1                            

Castington            |-             |1             |1                            

Channings Wood        |-             |-             |-                            

Chelmsford            |-             |-             |-                            

Coldingley            |-             |-             |-                            

Cookham Wood          |-             |-             |-                            

Dartmoor              |1             |-             |1                            

Deerbolt              |-             |-             |-                            

Dorchester            |-             |-             |-                            

Dover                 |-             |-             |-                            

Downview              |-             |-             |-                            

Drake Hall            |-             |-             |-                            

Durham                |2             |-             |2                            

East Sutton Park      |-             |-             |-                            

Eastwood Park         |-             |-             |-                            

Erlestoke             |-             |-             |-                            

Exeter                |1             |-             |1                            

Featherstone          |-             |-             |-                            

Feltham               |-             |-             |-                            

Finnamore Wood        |-             |-             |-                            

Ford                  |-             |-             |-                            

Foston Hall           |-             |-             |-                            

Frankland             |1             |-             |1                            

Full Sutton           |-             |-             |-                            

Garth                 |1             |-             |1                            

Gartree               |-             |-             |-                            

Glen Parva            |1             |-             |1                            

Gloucester            |-             |1             |1                            

Grendon               |-             |-             |-                            

Guys Marsh            |-             |-             |-                            

Haslar                |-             |-             |-                            

Hatfield              |-             |-             |-                            

Haverigg              |-             |-             |-                            

Hewell Grange         |-             |-             |-                            

Highpoint             |-             |-             |-                            

Hindley               |1             |-             |1                            

Hull                  |-             |-             |-                            

Huntercombe           |-             |-             |-                            

Kingston (Portsmouth) |-             |-             |-                            

Kirkham               |-             |-             |-                            

Kirklevington                                                                     

  Grange              |-             |-             |-                            

Lancaster             |1             |-             |1                            

Latchmere House       |-             |-             |-                            

Leeds                 |2             |-             |2                            

Leicester             |-             |-             |-                            

Lewes                 |1             |-             |1                            

Leyhill               |-             |-             |-                            

Lindholme             |-             |-             |-                            

Littlehey             |1             |-             |1                            

Liverpool             |2             |-             |2                            

Long Lartin           |1             |-             |1                            

Lowdham Grange        |-             |-             |-                            

Low Newton            |-             |-             |-                            

Maidstone             |-             |-             |-                            

Manchester            |4             |-             |4                            

Morton Hall           |-             |-             |-                            

The Mount             |-             |-             |-                            

New Hall              |-             |-             |-                            

Northallerton         |-             |-             |-                            

Northeye              |-             |-             |-                            

North Sea Camp        |-             |-             |-                            

Norwich               |-             |-             |-                            

Nottingham            |-             |-             |-                            

Onley                 |-             |-             |-                            

Oxford                |-             |-             |-                            

Parkhurst             |-             |-             |-                            

Portland              |-             |-             |-                            

Preston               |-             |-             |-                            

Pucklechurch          |-             |-             |-                            

Ranby                 |-             |-             |-                            

Reading               |-             |-             |-                            

Risley                |-             |2             |2                            

Rochester             |1             |-             |<1>2                         

Rudgate               |-             |-             |-                            

Send                  |-             |-             |-                            

Shepton Mallet        |1             |-             |1                            

Shrewsbury            |-             |-             |-                            

Spring Hill           |-             |-             |-                            

Stafford              |1             |1             |2                            

Standford Hill        |-             |-             |-                            

Stocken               |-             |-             |-                            

Stoke Heath           |-             |-             |-                            

Styal                 |-             |-             |-                            

Sudbury               |-             |-             |-                            

Swaleside             |-             |-             |-                            

Swansea               |1             |-             |1                            

Swinfen Hall          |-             |-             |-                            

Thorn Cross           |-             |-             |-                            

Thorp Arch            |-             |-             |-                            

Usk/Prescoed          |-             |-             |-                            

The Verne             |-             |-             |-                            

Wakefield             |-             |-             |-                            

Wandsworth            |1             |-             |1                            

Wellingborough        |-             |1             |1                            

Werrington            |-             |-             |-                            

Wetherby              |-             |-             |-                            

Whatton               |-             |-             |-                            

Winchester            |2             |-             |2                            

Wormwood Scrubs       |1             |-             |1                            

Wymott                |-             |-             |-                            

                      |---           |---           |---                          

Totals                |33            |15            |48                           

<1>An inquest is yet to be held on one of the two inmates who died by their own   

hand at Rochester in 1989.                                                        

Re-entry Visas

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he proposes to move the re-entry visa section from Petty France to Lunar house ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : We are keeping the arrangements for the readmission of visa nationals under review. But no plans have been made to move the re-entry visa section at the London passport office to Lunar house.

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average length of time for the processing of a re-entry visa for each of the offices in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Information is not available in precisely the form requested. The table shows the maximum processing times for straightforward, non-urgent applications as at 11 July 1990 :


Office               |Working days             

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

Glasgow              |2                        

Liverpool            |5                        

London               |8                        

Newport              |5                        

Peterborough         |6                        

Lunar House, Croydon |<1>-                     

Belfast              |<2>-                     

<1>Same day service for counter applications.  

<2>Following initial processing in Belfast     

applications are dealt with in London.         

Passport Offices

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons are employed at the (a) passport office and (b) re-entry section in each office in the United Kingdom for the years (i) 1970, (ii) 1975, (iii) 1980, (iv) 1985, (v) 1986, (vi) 1987, (vii) 1988, (viii) 1989 and (ix) at present.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The information is not available in precisely the form requested. Table (a) shows the number of permanent and casual staff in post at each office on 31 May for each year since 1984 when the Home Office assumed responsibility for passport issuing in the United Kingdom. Table (b) shows the number of staff employed on re-entry visa work in the London passport office on 31 May for each of the years 1985 to 1990. In other passport offices re-entry visa applications are handled by staff whose main function is the issue of passports. The staffing resources required for re- entry visa work in such offices cannot be identified separately.


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Table B              

Staff employed on    

re-entry visa work   

London Office        

on 31 May eqch year  

Year   |Number       

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

1985   |11.5         

1986   |11.5         

1987   |11.5         

1988   |11.5         

1989   |10.5         

1990   |10.5         


Table B              

Staff employed on    

re-entry visa work   

London Office        

on 31 May eqch year  

Year   |Number       

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

1985   |11.5         

1986   |11.5         

1987   |11.5         

1988   |11.5         

1989   |10.5         

1990   |10.5         

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he has introduced to help with stress-related illnesses for the workers at the passport offices.


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Mr. Peter Lloyd : Internally mounted management courses for Home Office managers contain an input on the management of stress and passport office managers attend such courses. All staff also have access to staff welfare facilities. I am not, however, aware that staff in passport offices are particularly prone to stress-related illnesses.

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many visas have been issued from each passport office in the United Kingdom from 1985 to the present.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The information requested is shown in the table for the financial years 1985-86 to the present :


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Visas issued by passport office since 1985                                      

[data]                                                                          

[foot]                                                                          

<1> Following initial processing in Belfast, applications are dealt with in the 

London office.                                                                  

<2> The figure for 1990-91 is for April to June 1990.                           

Brixton Prison

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether any temporary limit has been placed on the admission of prisoners to Brixton prison.

Mr. Mellor : Prison officers voted in June to take national industrial action over staffing levels and overcrowding. The local branch of the Prison Officers Association at Her Majesty's prison Brixton, together with other branches, took industrial action between noon on 6 July and noon on 9 July. This took the form of reducing the prison population to its certified normal accommodation level by refusing admission of prisoners. As a result of this action at Brixton, 40 prisoners were accommodated in police cells overnight on 6 July and 43 prisoners overnight on 7 July.


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Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the present establishment for (a) prison officers and (b) all staff at Brixton prison ; and what plans there are to increase it.

Mr. Mellor : There are at present 916 in post at Brixton prison of whom 718 are prison officers (including principal and senior officers and specialists). The target officer-in-post figure set by regional management for 31 March 1991 is 720.

Video Cassettes

Mr. Hanley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what role he envisages for the Broadcasting Standards Council in commenting upon the suitability of programme material distributed via video cassette rental.

Mr. Mellor : Although we have not included the video industry within the statutory functions of the Broadcasting Standards Council in the Broadcasting Bill, the council's


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general remit extends to video on a non- statutory basis. We understand that the British Board of Film Classification, in discharging its function under the Video Recordings Act 1984, will take account of the council's code of practice on the portrayal of violence and sex and standards of taste and decency and that the council will consult the board, among others, when drawing up or revising the code.

Security Industry

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to finalise his views on the recommendations of the report on the self-regulation of the security industry, submitted to him in July 1989.

Mr. John Patten : I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to a question from the hon. Member on 3 May at column 666.

Immigration

Mr. Cartwright : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many refugees from Somalia and their dependants have so far been granted leave to remain in the United Kingdom ; how many applications have been refused ; and how many are awaiting a decision.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The information requested for years from 1979 to 1988, including the number of Somalian applications for refugee status and asylum awaiting a decision at the end of 1987 and 1988, is published in Home Office statistical bulletin "Refugee Statistics, United Kingdom, 1988", a copy of which is in the Library. Revised figures, including provisional figures for 1989, will be published shortly in the bulletin for 1989 and are given in the table. Figures for the number of applications outstanding especially at the end of 1989 overstate the position because of under-recording of decisions made earlier.


Revised and more up-to-date information on applications received for     

refugee status or asylum from Somalian citizens                          

                                         |<1>1987|<1>1988|<2>1989        

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

Grants of refugee status or asylum       |57     |346    |1,170          

Grants of exceptional leave              |<3>85  |73     |305            

Refusals of exceptional leave or refugee |<3>89  |9      |10             

  status                                                                 

Applications outstanding at end of year  |<3>600 |580    |1,820          

<1>Revised figures.                                                      

<2>Provisional figures.                                                  

<3>These figures are unaltered.                                          

Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average time taken by his Department to investigate cases referred from overseas posts in order to assess whether the maintenance and accommodation requirements of the immigration rules have been met.

Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 16 July 1990] : The information is not available in the form requested. But the estimated average time taken by the immigration service to deal with all categories of cases deferred by entry clearance officers during the past 12 months was about 60 days.

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how long it takes for a decision to be made on


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a case of (a) naturalisation, (b) registration, (c) immigration, (d) eastern European casework and (e) asylum and related casework from the opening of the letter.

Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 10 July 1990] : The available information relates to the average times taken from the date of receipt of applications to their completion. Applications for naturalisation and registration completed in June 1990 took 30 months and 22 months respectively. After-entry immigration applications, applications from eastern European nationals and applications for asylum completed in the first quarter of 1990 (the latest period for which information is available), took 102 days, 108 days and 9.5 months respectively.

Pet Theft

Mr. Corbett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had with the Association of Chief Police Officers concerning reports on pet theft given to him by the national Petwatch organisation ; and with what result.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : We have not discussed this with the Association of Chief Police Officers, but we sent material provided by National Petwatch to the association which then circulated it to all chief constables in England and Wales. The investigation of alleged thefts is a matter for the police to whom all incidents should be reported.

RAF Greenham Common (Sentences)

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will initiate the process to have the sentences of those persons prosecuted under the Ministry of Defence's bylaws at RAF Greenham Common, which were the subject of the House of Lords ruling of 12 July, reviewed or quashed ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Patten : We are currently considering the terms of the House of Lords ruling of the RAF Greenham Common byelaws and will of course consider any representations made by those who have been convicted under those byelaws.

Prison Overcrowding

Sir John Wheeler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has to reduce overcrowding in prisons ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Waddington : The Government are tackling the problem of overcrowding by policies designed to ensure that imprisonment is not used in the case of persons who can be adequately punished in the community, and by a massive prison building programme. On 13 July there were 45,483 people in prison or temporarily held in police cells. This is the lowest July figure since 1984.

Under the prison building programme, eight prisons have been completed since 1979, and 12 are under construction, with more planned to follow. Between now and March 1992 the programme will produce over 5,000 new places, and this figure will rise to nearly 7, 000 by March 1993. The new establishments are being built to a high standard, and places in them will have integral sanitation ; and with their completion, the number of


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places available to the prison service of category B standard will rise by one third. Over 5,000 of the new places will be used for prisoners in local prisons or remand centres, thus relieving directly the areas of greatest pressure.

There is also a substantial programme of projects producing places at existing establishments. Over the next three years 3,000 places with integral sanitation will come into use at existing establishments. About half these places will be in local establishments.

I concluded towards the end of last year that the distribution of the prison estate needed attention. In particular, with the welcome fall in the young offender population, young offender accommodation was not full, while the adult system remained under considerable strain. A review has been carried out of the prison estate as a whole with the aim of providing the necessary places through the most cost-effective and efficient mix of establishments, in particular by examining what scope and options exist for changes and adjustments to the young offender estate and to the role of establishments in order to bring planned capacity and expected population levels more closely into line. The prime purpose was to seek ways of relieving the burden of overcrowding in the adult estate, where the need is for good quality and secure accommodation.

The main proposals which have emerged from the review are as follows. First, three large young offender institutions will become adult prisons for category C prisoners. Her Majesty's prison Wellingborough, which has accommodated with success the bulk of the Grendon population while building work has been going on there, will continue as an adult prison when Grendon returns to operation during the autumn. Her Majesty's young offender institution The Mount will become an adult establishment (the purpose for which it was originally built) before the end of the current financial year, and Her Majesty's young offender institution Castington similarly in 1992-93. While some security work will be necessary to make them fully suitable for their new role, all three establishments offer modern and secure accommodation and will be most valuable additions to the adult estate. Secondly, a number of establishments will change their functions in whole or in part so as to provide a resource more fitted to the expected population. This may involve the provision of local, training or young offender places as required in the particular area. In some areas, these changes will help to move young offenders on remand out of adult local prisons. For example, part of the existing young offender institution at Everthorpe has been redesignated as a prison to enable it to hold such offenders and to give immediate relief to Her Majesty's prison Hull. In 1992, it is intended that Her Majesty's prison Thorp Arch should take young offender remand prisoners so as to reduce or even eliminate the young offender population in Her Majesty's prison Leeds.

It was always clear that as we sought to develop plans for the better use of the estate, the possibility could not be ruled out of closing establishments, particularly young offender establishments, where their accommodation was uneconomic, poorly located, or in other respects below standard. It is proposed that HM young offender institution Campsfield House and HM young offender institution Lowdham Grange should close by the end of the current financial year, and HM young offender institution Eastwood Park and HM prison Northeye by


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the end of 1992-93. Campsfield House offers no more than 70 places with low security. To fill this up with prisoners not suitable for these conditions would be to put the public at risk. The establishment could discharge any alternative and secure function only following virtual rebuilding at high cost and considerable delay. Similar considerations apply to Eastwood Park and Northeye. Lowdham Grange is an open young offender establishment which has for some time been only partly occupied as the young offender population has fallen. Inmates suitable for open conditions can be accommodated elewhere within the system. Staff, trade unions and boards of visitors will be consulted on the basis of these proposals. These initiatives will produce a more efficient prison estate in which accommodation is better located, better fitted to its tasks, and with better facilities than now exist.

Rape

Dame Jill Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action has been taken since 1987 to tackle the crime of rape.

Mr. John Patten : The Government continue to attach a high priority to action against rape, including the detection and punishment of offenders ; the provision of help and support to victims ; and the development of prevention policies.

The enhanced police response to rape allegations is reflected in the increases in the recorded crime statistics. Victims of rape have been encouraged to come forward. Changes in police practice have meant that a higher proportion of rape allegations have been recorded as crimes. A high percentage of recorded rapes are cleared up by the police (71 per cent. in 1987 and 74 per cent. in 1989) and the police now have their disposal improved detection methods such as DNA fingerprinting with which to provide the courts with evidence of guilt. The maximum penalty for attempted rape was increased to life imprisonment in 1985. In 1986 the Court of Appeal gave guidance on sentencing in rape cases in R v Billam. Since 1987, over 70 per cent. of convicted rapists have received sentences of five years or more.

In line with Home Office guidance issued in October 1986, the police are increasingly alert to the special needs of rape victims. Rape examination suites have been set up where distressed victims can be examined in comforting surroundings and by a woman doctor wherever possible ; interviews with victims are usually also conducted by women police officers. The aim is to treat victims sensitively and to provide them with full information about medical, support and counselling services after their ordeal.

Anonymity for rape victims was strengthened in the Criminal Justice Act 1988. It is now an offence to publish or broadcast the name or address or a still or moving picture of a woman after an allegation has been made that she has been the victim of a rape offence, if that is likely to lead members of the public to identify her as the alleged victim. The prohibition applies during the whole of the woman's lifetime, unless the courts make a specific direction to the contrary, and it applies whether proceedings follow or not ; if they do, it applies in relation to civil as well as criminal proceedings. The Home Office is providing £4.5 million this year towards the cost of local victim support schemes. These now cover over 94 per cent. of the population of England


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and Wales and are helping increasing numbers of victims of serious crime, including rape victims. Improved understanding of the nature of crimes is desirable as a basis for developing prevention policies. In February 1989, we published two important research studies about rape, "Changes in rape offences and sentences" (Home Office Research Study 105) and "Concerns about rape" (Home Office Research Study 106). Among other findings, the studies suggest that women are more likely to be raped by someone they know than by a stranger, and that more rapes take place indoors than in public places. The reports are in the Library.

The latest edition of our crime prevention handbook "Practical Ways to Crack Crime" encourages women to take common-sense precautions to reduce the risk of attack.

Arrangements for the treatment of sex offenders in prison custody and their treatment and supervision in the community are being reviewed by a prison service working party and by Her Majesty's inspectorate of probation. This work should contribute to the development of improved provision for the treatment of offenders, so that they are less likely to re-offend.

TRANSPORT

M3 (Compulsory Purchase)

Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his reply of 12 July to the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford, when he expects the remaining part of the compulsory purchase order relating to the Bar End-Compton section of the M3 will be made.

Mr. Atkins : A date for making the compulsory purchase order for the Bar End-Compton section of the M3 has not yet been fixed.

Toxic Materials (Rivers and Estuaries)

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he plans to introduce new regulations for the control of the transport of toxic materials on rivers and estuaries.

Mr. McLoughlin : The existing Merchant Shipping (Dangerous Goods) Regulations 1981, as amended, which govern the transport of toxic materials on rivers and estuaries within the United Kingdom, will be revised to take account of recent internationally agreed conditions for the transport of marine pollutants by ships.

Collisions (River Usk)

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many collisions and other accidents involving ships in the River Usk, Gwent have taken place in the past three years ; and how many of these involved ships carrying toxic wastes.

Mr. McLoughlin : Records show that there have been two accidents involving ships in the River Usk in the past three years. The details are :


Date of accident   |Name of vessel    |Type of accident                     

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

13 November 1989   |Hargevan          |Grounding                            

24 April 1990      |Bell Ranger/Morias|Collision                            

The Bell Ranger was carrying, among other items, a container of drums of chemical waste. The chemical is classified as a toxic substance. Hargeven and Morias were both carrying cargoes of steel.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 6 July to the hon. Member for Newport, West, Official Report, column 737 , if he has any additional information (a) on the condition of the containers and (b) the severity of the collision.

Mr. McLoughlin : I have no information on the condition of the containers as commissioned for use but none was damaged in the incident in question.

As to the severity of the collision, both vessels sustained only minor damage.

Bus Lanes

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what discussions his Department has had with the Metropolitan police about the case for ensuring a stronger enforcement of regulations as to the illegal use of bus lanes by other motor vehicles ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) what discussions he is having with London councils about an extension of the present provision of bus lanes within the Greater London area ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : The provision of bus lanes and the enforcement of the regulations applying to them are being considered with the development of our proposals for improving traffic management and parking control in London set out in "Traffic in London". Discussions are under way with the Metropolitan police and the local authorities concerned in connection with the priority route pilot scheme planned in north and east London.

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions his Department has had with the Metropolitan police about the removal of any existing bus lanes in central London ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : My Department has had no recent discussions with the Metropolitan police on this subject.

Roads, Cumbria

Mr. Jopling : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what road improvements are pending between Cumbria and the A1 in the light of the proposed upgrading of the A1 ; and if he will make it his policy that the upgrading of the A66 will be completed before the A1 upgrading is completed.

Mr. Atkins : On the A66 between Penrith and Scotch Corner there are three improvement schemes planned. Works are expected to begin in September on a dual carriageway scheme between the Bowes bypass, in Durham, and the Cumbria border.

The two other schemes are in preparation. These are between Stainmore and Banksgate and at Temple Sowerby and works are planned to start from mid- 1992.

The trans-Pennine study, now being carried out by consultants commissioned by the Department, will consider the need for further improving the road links across the Pennines, including the A66. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State explained in his announcement on 3 July 1990, the


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upgrading of the A1 from London to Tyneside will inescapably be spread over a number of years. Within this period and with the outcome of the trans-Pennine study the future needs for the A66 trunk road will become more defined.

Merchant Ships

Sir John Farr : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the average age of British merchant ships ; and what information he has on the world average age.

Mr. McLoughlin : As at 31 March 1990, the average age of United Kingdom-registered trading vessels was 13.7 years : the average age of all world trading vessels was 12.7 years.

UK Airports and Airspace

Mr. Haselhurst : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has yet received the Civil Aviation Authority's advice on United Kingdom airport and airspace capacity, which was commissioned for his Department in July 1988 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Parkinson : The Civil Aviation Authority is publishing today its advice on airport and airspace capacity. Copies of the report are being placed in the Library.

The CAA's work has had two main elements : first, an examination of what additional runway capacity appears to be needed to serve the south-east ; and, secondly, an analysis of the technical feasibility, in airspace and air traffic control terms only, of the options for providing that capacity.

The CAA has reassessed its traffic forecasts. It has reached the view that extra runway capacity to serve the south-east will be required around the year 2005.

The authority looked at eight options for further development at existing airports. At my request, it did not consider green field sites. Sir Christopher Tugendhat, the chairman of the CAA, has noted in his covering letter to me that the Government will need to take account of many wider factors before making a choice. He has also acknowledged that the wider view might lead us to reject some locations which, from an airline or air traffic control viewpoint alone, might appear favourable.

The Government are in no way committed to any of the options identified by the CAA. I am acutely aware of the impact of airport development on the environment, on employment, and on local infrastructure. These matters will need to be thoroughly addressed and there will be no question of any major new runway development taking place without full public consultation and a public inquiry into any objections.

As the next step, I propose to establish a working group to examine these factors, and to make recommendations. Representatives from bodies representing local and environmental interests, from airport and airline operators, from the tourism and travel industry, and from Government Departments, will be invited to participate.

In their 1985 White Paper on airports policy, the Government expressed their view that a second runway should not be built at either Stansted or Gatwick. The considerations which led to that view remain compelling.

I shall be reminding the working group of the undertakings which have been given in the case of Gatwick


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and Stansted and of the acute environmental problems which gave rise to the views which the Government expressed on those airports in the 1985 White Paper. Obviously, the wider considerations the chairman referred to are no less relevant at Heathrow.

In its advice, the CAA has said that it believes that traffic at regional airports will continue to grow rapidly, but that this will not be an effective substitute for additional London area capacity. I shall be asking the working group to assess this conclusion most carefully and to gauge the extent to which regional airports can play a part in meeting the overall growth in demand, into the next century.

Orange Badge Holders

Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many orange badge holders were registered in England and Wales for the year 1988 ; and what is his Department's projected figure for 1991 under the new proposals.


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