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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 22 October 1991

ATTORNEY-GENERAL

Bank of Credit and Commerce International

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Attorney-General (1) how many members of the Serious Fraud Office are currently in Abu Dhabi ;

(2) what steps were taken by the Serious Fraud Office to prevent those responsible for the fraud against BCCI leaving the United Kingdom ;

(3) how many members of the Serious Fraud Office are currently in the United States of America in connection with the BCCI issue ; (4) when the Serious Fraud Office first became involved in the BCCI affair.

The Attorney-General : The Serious Fraud Office first became aware from the Bank of England of concerns over BCCI on the 1 July 1991. On the 4 July 1991--the day prior to the appointment of provisional liquidators--it received relevant papers from the Bank of England with a view to investigation. No steps are available to the Serious Fraud Office to restrict the liberty of individuals wishing to leave the United Kingdom unless those persons have been charged with criminal offences. I am satisfied that no person has left the jurisdiction at a time when the Serious Fraud Office was in possession of evidence sufficient to justify the institution of proceedings.

It is the policy of the Serious Fraud Office not to disclose the deployment of operational staff involved in criminal investigation.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Lawrence : To ask the Attorney-General what he estimates is likely to be the cost to the legal aid fund of providing financial assistance for solicitors and counsel for those of the 50,000 annual asylum seekers who may be refused asylum and wish to appeal.

The Attorney-General : Full legal aid for representation is not available for asylum appeals. Current average figures for the cost of advice and assistance are available only for all immigration, asylum and nationality matters and the costs of asylum cannot be separated out. Using current average figures the probable cost of advice and assistance in 50,000 asylum cases would be in the region of £9 million.

Family Proceedings

Mr. Carrington : To ask the Attorney-General what steps are to be taken in respect of those persons who may attend family proceedings ; and what may be disclosed publicly about such proceedings.

The Attorney-General : The present law has grown up piecemeal and is fragmented with different rules applying in different types of court and proceedings. As part of the


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Government's review of the family justice system, my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor has put in hand a review of the current law and practice in respect of access to and reporting of family proceedings. As a first step, a group of officials advised by Professor Brenda Hoggett has been set up under the auspices of the family law and administration working party. Its purpose is to analyse the present law and practice and to identify existing inconsistencies, the options for change and the issues involved in any reform. The Government will use the results of the group's work as the basis for wide ranging consultations with all those interested, including the judiciary and the media, before reaching any conclusions about what reform might be desirable.

Private Security Firms

Mr. George : To ask the Attorney-General if he will list the number of private security firms currently employed by his Department, the number of employees for each firm on the contract, the total value of each contract and the total value of all contracts for each financial year since 1984-85.

The Attorney-General : The legal secretariat to the Law Officers does not employ a private security firm. The Treasury Solictor's Department does not currently employ a private security firm, but did so in respect of one of its buildings from June to August 1991. The firm engaged one employee on the contract, the cost of which was shared as to 50 per cent. with the Charity Commission. The share borne by the Treasury Solicitor's department was £4,269.

The Crown prosecution service currently employs two private security firms with four and three employees engaged respectively by each firm on the contract. The total value of each contract is £82, 000 and £57,000.

The total value of all contracts since 1984 is as follows :


          |£                  

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

1984-87   |Nil                

1987-88   |3,050.00           

1988-89   |36,460.00          

1989-90   |42,397.00          

1990-91   |48,006.00          

The Serious Fraud Office currently employs one private security firm. The contract specifies a security complement of seven employees and the total value of this contract is £136,000.

The total value of all contracts for each financial year since 1984-85 is as follows :

1984-87 Nil

1987-88 3,050.00

1988-89 36,460.00

1989-90 42,397.00

1990-91 48,006.00

TRANSPORT

Disability

Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will invite the European Commission to proceed with the proposed directive 4315/91 under article 75 ; and if he will make a statement ;


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(2) if he will give the details and address of the section and directorate within the European Commission concerned with the exclusion of non-workers from the proposed directive (4315/91) on transport of workers with reduced mobility ;

(3) if taxi cabs are to be covered by the proposed directive 4315/91.

Mr. Freeman : I will write to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Carr : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has any plans to extend the orange badge scheme to sufferers of inflammatory bowel disease.

Mr. Chope : Sufferers of Crohn's disease are eligible for assistance under the orange badge scheme if their disability is permanent and substantial and causes very considerable difficulty in walking.

British Rail

Mr. Brazier : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has received from the chairman of British Rail about the future of Railfreight Distribution Freightliner container services ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman : British Rail has today announced that, following a comprehensive review by independent consultants, its

container-carrying services in the United Kingdom will be streamlined in May 1992. I have arranged for a copy of British Rail's announcement to be placed in the Library of the House.

Eurofreight Terminal

Mr. Ingram : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he last met British Rail to discuss the siting of the Eurofreight terminal in Scotland ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman : The decision on where to locate channel tunnel freight terminals is a commercial one for British Rail. I expect them to announce the chosen site for the Scottish terminal very shortly.

Private Security Firms

Mr. George : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the number of private security firms currently employed by his Department, the number of employees for each firm on the contract, the total value of each contract and the total value of all contracts for each financial year since 1984-85.

Mr. McLoughlin : I will write to the hon. Member.

Radioactive Materials (Imports)

Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list in the Official Report by year for the past 10 years, and for each port in Scotland, the number of tonnes of radioactive material that was imported.

Mr. McLoughlin : I will write to the hon. Member.

Shipping Dues

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultations he has had with the Chamber of Shipping over the increases in light due tariffs during the current year.


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Mr. McLoughlin : I will write to the hon. Member.

Coastguard Stations

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will make a statement on the future of Her Majesty's coastguard stations ;

(2) what further closures of Her Majesty's coastguard stations are planned.

Mr. McLoughlin : I will write to the hon. Member.

Discounted Bus Fares

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has had regarding the current age at which school children stop paying discount fares on buses.

Mr. Freeman : We have received few such representations recently.

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make his policy to seek to raise the age for discounted fares on buses from 14 to 16 years.

Mr. Freeman : Bus companies are already free to offer cheap fares on a commercial basis to children of any age, and section 93 of the Transport Act 1985 gives local authorities outside London powers to include children under 16 years in a concessionary fares scheme. The decisions on what concessions to give and the ages of the children included in a particular scheme are for the authority concerned.

Visual Disability

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he last met the Royal National Institute for the Blind to discuss access to public transport for the partially sighted.

Mr. Freeman : My Department is in touch regularly with the Royal National Institute for the Blind and other organisations representing blind and partially sighted people on access to public transport and a wide range of other mobility issues.

Tourism

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultations he has had with London Transport regarding the proportion of visitors using the underground and buses.

Mr. Freeman : Sample surveys carried out by the London tourist board suggest that the majority of visitors to London make some use of bus and underground services. I refer the hon. Member to my hon. Friend's answer of 11 January 1989, Official Report, columns 699-700. The matter has not been the subject of any recent consultation between London Transport and this Department.

Blackwall Tunnel

Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he has taken subsequent on his official visit to the Blackwall tunnel on 3 September, to


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minimise preventable traffic congestion and delay in east London by improved traffic management, road signing and similar methods.

Mr. Freeman : With regard to the Blackwall tunnel, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on Tuesday 15 October, Official Report, columns 124-25. When roadworks are carried out they will often cause some degree of traffic congestion. However, the Department always takes great care to devise works in such a way as to minimise delay for the motorist and nuisance for others.

Trunk Road Crossings

Mr. Ground : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria he applies to the provision of pedestrian bridges over trunk roads in urban areas.

Mr. Chope : Each proposal for the provision of a footbridge or subway is considered on its merits. These include pedestrian and vehicle flows, accident record, availability of alternative crossing points, topography of the site, environmental and economic considerations, ages and mobility of pedestrians likely to use the facility and the possibility of anti-social behaviour. All these aspects are discussed in chapter 24 of HMSO publication prepared by the Institution of Highways and Transportation with the Department of Transport, entitled "Roads and Traffic in Urban Areas", a copy of which will be placed in the Library as soon as possible.

Mr. Ground : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what factors led to the selection of the wire fencing now separating the part of Cranford village south of the A4 from the part to the north ; and who was responsible for the selection of this fencing.

Mr. Chope : The fencing will help to prevent crossover accidents, cushioning the impact of vehicles which may collide with it ; also it is high enough to deter pedestrians from vaulting over. The decision to install this type of fencing in this location was taken by the London regional office of the Department.

Mr. Ground : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria he applies to the provision of light-controlled crossings on trunk roads.

Mr. Chope : The criteria are based on an assessment of road safety and the degree of conflict between pedestrians and vehicles at the proposed crossing place. Other local factors, for example, adjacent to homes for the elderly, school entrances, and so on are taken into account as matters of local judgment.

The criteria are published in departmental advice note TA52/87, "Design Considerations for Pelican and Zebra Crossings". A copy is in the Library.

A4, Cranford

Mr. Ground : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport under what powers a wire fence has been erected along the middle of the Cranford section of the A4 road ; and over what length of trunk road in England such wire fencing has previously been placed by his Department.

Mr. Chope : Section 64 of the Highways Act 1980 empowers any highway authority to construct and


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maintain central reserve fencing on dual carriageways ; in addition section 66 of that Act empowers any highway authority to provide and maintain pedestrian safety fencing. There is no central record of how much wire fencing of a similar design to that on the A4 has been installed along other trunk roads.

Mr. Ground : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what would be the cost of providing (a) a further light-controlled crossing on and (b) a pedestrain bridge over the Cranford section of the A4.

Mr. Chope : Depending on circumstances, particularly statutory undertakers' costs, a tentative estimate for (a) would be £100,000 and for (b) £400,000.

Oxleas Wood

Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will consider re-routing or covering the proposed road through Oxleas wood.

Mr. Chope : No. The alignment of the east London river crossing scheme was decided in July 1988 in accordance with the inspector's recommendation following a public inquiry lasting 15 months. The decision not to provide a tunnel through part of Oxleas wood was taken in 1988 only after very thorough consideration of the effects of the scheme on the environment, ecology and recreational use of the woodland.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what response he will make to the letters from the European Environment Commissioner about Oxleas wood and other threatened sites.

Mr. Chope : The formal letter of 17 October 1991 from the European Commission sets out a number of respects in which it is alleged that directive 85/337 EEC on environmental impact assessment had not been correctly implemented. The letter will be studied very carefully before a reply is sent. Commissioner Ripa di Meana also sent, and released to the press, a personal letter to my right hon. and learned Friend. In reply, my right hon. and learned Friend has told him that construction of the three schemes--Hackney-M11 link, east London river crossing, and M3 Twyford Down- -had not begun and was not due to begin for some considerable time, but that the schemes were urgently needed and the Department would be continuing with the necessary advance works.

Channel Tunnel Rail Link

Mr. Warren : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when private contractors will be permitted to commence the construction of the channel tunnel rail link.

Mr. Freeman : I will write to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Steinberg : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the projected number of trains per hour that will travel through the channel tunnel.

Mr. Freeman : Hourly figures are not available. However, British Rail plans to run 75 passenger and freight trains each way per day through the tunnel.

Commissioner Ripa di Meana

Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) when his officials last spoke to officials in Commissioner Ripa di Meana's office ; and what subjects were discussed ;


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(2) if he will make a statement on the content and outcome of his telephone conversation in September with Commissioner Ripa di Meana.

Mr. Freeman : I will write to the hon. Member.

Severn Bridge

Mr. Murphy : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what was the total cost of repair works to the Severn bridge since 1984 ; (2) when he expects the present repair works on the Severn bridge to be completed.

Mr. Chope : I will write to the hon. Member.

London Transport International Limited

Mr. Fraser : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will seek a meeting with the chairman of London Transport to discuss the proposed closure of London Transport International Limited, consultants.

Mr. Freeman : I will write to the hon. Member.

East Norton Bypass

Sir John Farr : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he intends to take to alleviate local fears that the newly opened A47 East Norton bypass, Leicestershire has transferred accidents from the village road to the new junction.

Mr. Chope : I will write to my hon. Friend.

Traffic Director for London

Mr. Carrington : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the Traffic Director for London will take up office ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chope : Following an open competition, I appointed Mr. Derek Turner as Traffic Director for London on 16 October under the provisions of section 52 of the Road Traffic Act 1991. Mr. Turner will be taking up the post on 9 November. His task will be to co-ordinate the introduction and maintenance of the red route measures in London and monitor their operation.

Lorry Speeds

Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will meet with the European Commission to discuss its proposed directive limiting lorries of over 12 tonnes to 50 mph ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chope : I will write to my hon. Friend.


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Video Recordings

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 18 June, Official Report, column 69 , to the hon. Member for Don Valley, if he will make it his practice to keep central records of lists of titles of the video recordings purchased by his Department.

Mr. McLoughlin : This information could be collected and recorded only at disproportionate cost.

A500

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received concerning his decision to remove truck stops from the A500 trunk road north of Hanchurch, Stoke on Trent.

Mr. Chope : Six objections have been received to the published draft clearway order, three of them to the prohibition of trading.

A5-M11 Trunk Road

Sir Ian Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions have been held with Hertfordshire county council and with North Hertfordshire district council by Acer Consultants Ltd. in connection with their work on the alignment of an east-west trunk road regarding the section between the A5 and the M11.

Mr. Chope : Acer Consultants Limited and its sub-contractors have had a series of meetings at working level with both county and district councils to gather views and information about constraints within the areas of interest.

A1-M1 Link Road

Sir John Farr : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is his latest date for completion of the A1-M1 link road ; and if he will advance his plans in this respect.

Mr. Chope : All remaining contracts are programmed to be let by the end of this year. The road should be completed by the end of 1993. Although this is subject to the effects of the action of the Society for the Preservation of the Field of the Battle of Naseby in fragmenting one plot within contract 2 into multiple ownership. The position for each contract is as follows.


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                                                           |Actual start of      |Programmed start of  |Programmed/actual                          

                                                           |works                |works                |completion                                 

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

Contract 1: Catthorpe Interchange                          |February 1990        |-                    |Summer 1990                                

Contract 2: Catthorpe to Rothwell                          |-                    |late 1991            |late 1993                                  

Contract 3: Catthorpe to Rothwell                          |-                    |late 1991            |late 1993                                  

Contract 4: Rothwell to Kettering                          |March 1990           |-                    |May 1991                                   

Contract 5 (N): Kettering Northern Bypass                  |-                    |January 1992         |March 1993                                 

Contract 5 (S): Kettering Southern Bypass                  |February 1990        |-                    |November 1991                              

Contract 6: Kettering to Thrapston                         |May 1989             |-                    |November 1990                              

Contract 7: Thrapston to Brampton                          |November 1989        |-                    |1 December 1990 west,                      

                                                                                                       |6 February 1991 east                       

Contract 8: Thrapston to Brampton                          |5 August 1991        |-                    |Spring 1993                                

Contract 9: Thrapston to Brampton                          |-                    |November 1991        |Summer 1993                                

Contract 10: Advance works for Railway Bridge on Kettering                                                                                         

Northern Bypass                                            |April 1990           |-                    |November 1991                              

Speed Limits

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much more the Isle of Wight county council would receive in grant if the island had a universal speed limit of (a) 30 mph, (b) 40 mph and (c) 50 mph.

Mr. Chope : It is estimated that (a) and (b) would increase revenue support grant by about £1 million, and that (c) would decrease grant by about £1 million. Criteria for determining appropriate speed limits are set out in circulars (roads) Nos 1/80 and 4/83.

Railway Junctions

Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he has on proposals to change the junction at Newton station, on which the collision of 21 July occurred, from a single to a double track junction ; and if he will make a statement on future policy towards the singling of double junctions.


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