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Mr. Charles Wardle : Specialist units already use encrypted radios and many police forces are now purchasing such radios for more general use. This is the most effective way of protecting police communications.
Mr. Fraser : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what follow-up action the Government are taking on the conference on east- west migration arising from the Berlin conference referred to in the report of the Immigration and Nationality Department 1991-92.
Mr. Charles Wardle : My right hon. and learned Friend attended a ministerial conference in Budapest on 15 and 16 February. This was a follow -up to the Berlin conference, and among other things considered a series of recommendations for tackling illegal immigration from and through central and eastern Europe.
Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of offenders in (a) the north-west and (b) England and Wales were aged under 21 years in the last year for which figures are avilable.
Number and percentage of offenders cautioned and found guilty at all courts in the North West region and England and Wales by age and type of offence, 1991<1> Aged under 21 All ages [=100 years per cent.] Area/type of offence Cautioned Found guilty Total found Cautioned Found guilTotal found guilty guilty or cautioned or cautioned |Number |Per cent.|Number |Per cent.|Number |Per cent. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- North West Region Indictable offences |17,324 |68 |19,197 |36 |26,521 |46 |25,316 |53,917 |79,233 Summary non-motoring offences |6,364 |52 |10,023 |16 |16,387 |22 |12,169 |62,527 |74,696 All offences |23,688 |63 |29,220 |25 |52,908 |34 |37,485 |116,444 |153,929 (excluding summary motoring) England and Wales Indictable offences |119,424 |66 |115,376 |34 |234,800 |46 |179,885 |335,394 |515,279 Summary non-motoring offences |38,649 |39 |63,279 |14 |101,928 |19 |98,880 |450,558 |549,438 All offences |158,073 |57 |178,655 |23 |336,728 |32 |278,765 |785,952 |1,064,717 (excluding summary motoring) <1> Provisional.
Mr. Brooke : Since my announcement on 14 January, I am pleased to inform the House of the allocation of items offered in lieu of taxation. A painting, "San Bernardino preaching in the Campo at Siena" by Domenico Beccafumi, together with a chalk study of the painting, will be allocated to the Fitzwilliam museum. Two diagrams by Michelangelo will be allocated to the British museum.
Mr. Trend : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will make a further statement on an independent fund for the restoration of Windsor castle to which he referred in his oral answer to the hon. Member for Shoreham (Mr. Stephen) on 25 January, Official Report, column 695.
Mr. Brooke : I am pleased to say that following inquiries from a number of people who wish to assist with the restoration of Windsor castle, Coutts and Company, bankers are establishing a trust fund to receive donations for that purpose. This fund will be entirely independent of the royal household and the Government.
Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will provide figures for the reduction in numbers of posts as a result of contracting out since 1979 in his Department and agencies for which he has responsibility.
Mr. Key : The Department of National Heritage was established in April 1992 since when 27 industrial posts have been lost as a result of contracting out. There has been no loss of posts at the Historic Royal Palaces Agency in this period.
Mr. Sproat : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will list all those non-departmental public bodies for which his Department is responsible which have the power to compel individuals, firms, companies or other institutions to carry out their instructions at the expense of the individuals, firms, companies or other institutions, and also to charge fees for the cost to the non-departmental public bodies of assessing the work which needed to be done.
Mr. Key : My Department is responsible for five non-departmental public bodies which have the power to compel individuals, firms, companies or other institutions to carry out their instructions. These are :
Broadcasting Complaints Commission
Broadcasting Standards Council
Football Licensing Authority
Of these, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission recovers the costs incurred for adjudications from the broadcasters.
Mr. Devlin : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many ships' owners were gaoled for letting unseaworthy vessels sail as allowed for by the Merchant Shipping Acts in each of the past five years.
Mr. Ainger : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what instructions he has given to Her Majesty's coastguard concerning issuing to the public, or answering telephone inquiries from the public about, the inshore waters forecast for the United Kingdom.
Mr. Norris : Each coastguard rescue centre broadcasts on marine VHF radio Marinecall inshore weather forecasts for their local areas at four- hourly intervals, or every two hours when a strong wind warning is in force. The Shetland isles is an exception and is covered by an inshore forecast especially provided by the Meteorological Office and paid for by the Department of Transport. Marinecall information is a commercial undertaking through a British Telecom recorded message service and is supplied free to Her Majesty's coastguard for promulgation by VHF radio only. Her Majesty's coastguard has undertaken not to compromise the service provided and, therefore, directs telephone callers to the Marinecall recorded service. However, BBC inshore waters forecasts, which are in the public domain, are given by Her Majesty's coastguard upon request via radio or telephone.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will give the precise position of MFV Pescado at the time of its sinking ; and whether this position is outside British territorial waters.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the deadline for the submission of compensation claims arising out of the sinking of MFV Pescado ; and who is entitled to claim compensation.
Mr. Norris : Under the provisions of the Limitation Act 1980 claims in respect of death or personal injury have to be made within three years of the incident. Other claims in tort have to be made within six years. The dependants of any person who died may be in a position to make a claim ; if they are minded to do so they should seek legal advice. If claims are made against the owner he cannot limit his liability in respect of crew members employed on the vessel.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to arrange for the MFV Pescado to be raised before the expiry of the deadline under which compensation claims must be made.
Mr. Carlisle : The Department issued a policy document on speed limits and revised guidance on the criteria for setting local speed limits on 13 January. There are no plans to introduce automatic speed limits between village signs, as used in some other countries. The factors which determine the best site for a village name sign invariably differ from those for deciding the start of a speed limit. Speed limits need to be seen by drivers as reasonable if they are to be obeyed and combining the village and speed signs could result in many instances in a speed limit being applied before it is appropriate. There are severe penalties for breaking limits and drivers should know when they enter a new speed limit zone by passing a sign displaying a speed limit roundel.
Mr. Freeman : Copies have been placed in the Library of the two papers considered by the high-level forum that I chaired in December. These are entitled "Proposed Consultation Arrangements" and "Developing Station and Junction Proposals".
Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what was the cost of operating radar surveillance of shipping in the English channel in each of the last three financial years ; (2) what estimate his Department has made of the capital cost and annual running costs of installing radar surveillance equipment to monitor shipping traffic in the Fair Isle straits, the Minches, the Pentland firth and the North channel.
Mr. Norris : The operating costs of the channel navigation information service--CNIS--comprise extra manpower required by Her Majesty's coastguard at Langdon battery Dover and at the technical services unit at Highcliffe, the maintenance of the radar system and ancillary equipment, and an aircraft to identify vessels
Column 147infringing the traffic separation scheme. Figures for the last three years, in £000s, and the estimated outturn for 1992-93 are as follows :
|1989-90 |1990-91 |1991-92 |<1>1992-93 ------------------------------------------------------------------- Manpower |87 |89 |101 |113 Maintenance |357 |303 |389 |550 Aircraft |129 |120 |139 |100 <1> Estimate.
The manpower figures are estimated because they are not recorded separately within the budget for operating Langdon battery. The radar system is being overhauled, with a new computer system being installed, at a total cost of £4.5 million. The maintenance costs this year have been higher because of this exercise but are expected to fall sharply when the new system is commissioned in April 1993.
The Department has not estimated the costs of installing and operating a similar system in any other area : this could be done only after a detailed study of the area concerned to determine what sites and equipment would be needed. The figures given for CNIS may not be indicative because some sites and equipment already available have been used, but they show the order of cost.
Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations Her Majesty's Government have made to the International Maritime Organisation on the subject of equipping vessels with radio transponders ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Norris : No representations have been made to the International Maritime Organisation--IMO--with regard to equipping vessels with radio transponders. However, the Department is actively considering their use in vessel traffic services at the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities, which has been tasked to undertake this work by the IMO.
Mr. Sproat : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list all those non-departmental public bodies for which his Department is responsible, which have the power to compel individuals, firms, companies or other institutions to carry out their instructions at the expense of the individuals, firms, companies or other institutions, and also to charge fees for the cost to the non-departmental public bodies of assessing the work which needed to be done.
Column 148Report, column 418 , if he will make a statement as to the implications for Northern Ireland of clause 132(3) of the Railways Bill.
Mr. Freeman : The implications for Northern Ireland of section 132(3) of the Railways Bill are minimal. The main provisions of part I of the Railways Bill do not extend to Northern Ireland. The restructuring provisions in part II and associated provisions in part III, which apply to the British Railways Board, are extended to Northern Ireland to enable the board to deal with any property, rights and liabilities it may have in Northern Ireland. Other provisions extend to Northern Ireland where they amend legislation which so extends.
(2) what information he has on how many diesel cars have suffered engine damage as a result of the new smoke emission tests in the MOT test ;
(3) what steps he has taken to inform the public of the diesel engine new smoke emission tests ; what evaluation of alternative test methods which are less liable to cause engine damage has been made ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : MOT testing stations have been advised how to test diesel-engined vehicles, and with what equipment. They have been specifically instructed not to test vehicles where the engine is not in a satisfactory condition, and they have also been given guidance on how to establish this. I have placed in the Library a copy of the advice to MOT testing stations about the MOT diesel smoke check, together with the relevant extract from the MOT tester's manual about the test procedure.
The test involves measuring smoke density while the eingine is run to its maximum governed speed so as to impose a similar sort of load on the engine as it experiences in normal driving conditions. The only alternative to measuring smoke density during a free acceleration test would require the use of a dynamometer. This would be a very much more expensive investment than the smoke meters which have been in use since 1 January.
The purpose of the test and the procedure are described in an advisory note which MOT testing stations have been providing to applicants with diesel- engined vehicles before tests have been carried out. As the note explains, the test procedure is not harmful to properly maintained engines, but an engine may well need prior attention where it has not been maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.
Unfortunately I have received reports that there have been some cases where light-duty diesel engines have suffered damage during the metered test of smoke levels while the engine is under load, and I have therefore decided to suspend that part of the test temporarily as from today pending an investigation into these matters. In the meantime motorists should continue to take diesel-engined vehicles only to MOT testing stations which have been authorised to test diesels, since they will still be continuing to check by eye that vehicles are not emitting excessive smoke or vapour at normal idling speed. Taken by itself, this visual check is not such an effective test because it does not indicate how an engine performs when
Column 149a vehicle is out on the road. However, it will at least identify those vehicles with serious in-service performance deficiencies. I hope that it will be possible to reinstate the metered test a little later in the year. Emissions testing during roadworthiness tests is an important feature of our policy on improving the environment, and if a diesel engine is putting out too much smoke we have a responsibility to ensure that the problem is rectified.
Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : No, the decision on whether to invest in smoke-measuring equipment must be a matter for individual MOT testing stations to make. If we were to introduce a requirement that all stations should be able to test diesel-engined vehicles there would be substantial over-capacity, and a lot of equipment would be left standing idle for long periods of time.
Mr. Gareth Wardell : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to inform the owners of diesel cars and diesel light commercial vehicles of the need to ensure that their vehicles are serviced before being submitted for the Ministry of Transport test diesel smoke emission levels test.
Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : Diesel-engined vehicles do not necessarily need to be serviced before the MOT test, although an engine may well need prior attention where it has not been maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations. MOT stations have been providing an advisory note about this to all test applicants with diesel-engined vehicles before a test takes place. The note explains the purpose of the smoke check ; the procedure involved ; and it also advises against proceeding with a test in any case where an engine may not be in a fit state to be tested. In addition, testing stations have been instructed to review the service history of a vehicle with the applicant before starting the test, and to carry out a number of preliminary safety checks on the engine. I have placed a copy of the note and our instructions in the Library.
Unfortunately, notwithstanding the various precautions which have been taken, I have nevertheless received reports that there have been some cases where light-duty diesel engines have suffered damage during the metered test, and I have therefore decided to suspend that part of the test temporarily as from today pending an investigation into these matters.
Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport to my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) on 9 July 1992, Official Report, columns 321-22.
Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : In May 1989, when it was announced that the Birmingham northern relief road would be privately financed, the Department estimated that a public sector scheme could not have opened until the mid- 1990s, allowing for a three-year construction period. That estimate was however very tentative : the statutory procedures for the public scheme had not been completed ; the implications of new national traffic forecasts had not been incorporated ; and the availability of public finance could not be guaranteed.
Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : The behavioural studies research programme was initiated in 1986. Its aim is to quantify how the accident risk of individual drivers and motor cyclists depends on age, driving experience, gender and a range of social and psychological factors. The programme has identified those skills and attitudes which are important for safety on the road. It is now exploring the ways by which key skills such as hazard perception can be taught, and how attitudes and behaviours can be influenced. It is providing a sound basis for measures to help reduce the number of casualties on our roads, in particular those associated with young or inexperienced drivers.
There is a continuing programme of work, involving the Transport Research Laboratory and 10 universities, which so far has resulted in more than 40publications in the scientific press.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the current forecast timetable for (a) the rail track charges for the Heathrow express to be agreed and (b) the Heathrow express to start operating.
Mr. Norris : I hope that negotiations between the British Airports Authority and British Rail on track access charges and other matters will be concluded shortly. It ought then to be possible for the service to begin operating in 1997.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the capital cost and the net present value of the proposed rail improvements at Borough Market and of the Thameslink 2000 project.
Mr. Norris : Preliminary estimates by British Rail suggest that the net capital cost of the Thameslink 2000 project as a whole would be about £1 billion ; that it would have a negative financial net present value, discounted at
Column 1518 per cent., of about £600 million but positive net present value of about £1 billion if non-priced benefits were taken into account. The element of capital costs in the Borough Market area is estimated to be in the order of £80 million to £90 million ; no meaningful net present value can be attached to this element of the project in isolation.
British Rail is continuing its appraisal work.
Mr. Norris : At 1 July 1992, the latest date for which figures are available, 1.3 per cent. of the total work force of the Department of Transport and its agencies were registered as disabled. It is not possible to establish the total number of departmental staff with disabilities because many people with disabilities prefer not to register.
Mrs. Bridget Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about the transportation by air of plutonium in containers which do not meet the standards stipulated by the International Atomic Energy Agency ; when this method of transporting plutonium began ; why this method of transportation was chosen ; and what assessment has been made of the likely effects if any of the aeroplanes which are used to transport plutonium were to be involved in a crash.
Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : I know of no instance when plutonium has been transported in or over the UK in containers that did not meet the standards stipulated by the International Atomic Energy Agency. In its report "The Transport of Civil Plutonium by Air", published in 1988, the advisory committee on the safe transport of radioactive material concluded that the health risk to people from the current transport of civil plutonium by air to and from the United Kingdom is not only extremely remote but also acceptable.
Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will provide figures for the reduction in numbers of posts as a result of contracting out since 1979 in his Department and agencies for which he has responsibility.
Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : I regret that the information is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. We will, however, be reporting on the outcome of this year's market testing programme.
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