Mr. Dewar : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many employer liability personal injury claims worth over £2,500 were settled in court in (a) 1989-90, (b) 1990-91, (c) 1991-92, (d) 1992-93 and (e) the first six months of 1992-93.
Mr. Dewar : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many personal injury claims worth over £2,500 were settled in court in (a) 1989-90, (b) 1990-91, (c) 1991-92, (d) 1992-93 and (e) the first six months of 1992-93.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The only figures available are those set out in tables 1 and 2. They show by respective year since 1989, the total number of personal injury cases disposed of by trial, in the case of the High Court, where the amount of the award was £5,000 or more ; and in the county courts where the amount of the award was £2,000 or more.
Table 1 Personal injury cases in the high court during 1989-1992 where the amount of award was £5,000 or more Year ------------------ 1989 |1,823 1990 |484 1991 |625 1992 |1,072
Table 2 Personal injury cases in the county court during 1989-1992 where the amount of award was £2,000 or more Year ------------------ 1989 |1,136 1990 |2,658 1991 |1,530 1992 |4,106
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what was the cost of the duty solicitor scheme in the most recent year available ; and whether that cost is included in the expenditure figures for legal aid.
Mr. John M. Taylor : In 1991-92, the last year for which figures are available, the cost of the duty solicitor schemes was £62 million. It is estimated that the scheme will have cost £72 million in 1992-93. The cost of the duty solicitor schemes is included in the expenditure figures for legal aid.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what was the amount of contributions to criminal legal aid paid for the most recent year available, and the number of defendants who have made those payments.
Mr. John M. Taylor : In the period from April 1991 to March 1992 a total of £3.6 million was paid in contributions towards the cost of legally aided criminal cases (£2 million in respect of proceedings in the magistrates courts and £1.6 million in respect of proceedings in courts other than the magistrates courts). In 1991 there were approximately 36,300 contributors in legally aided criminal cases.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what was the total number of defendants granted legal aid and the net cost of that aid, for both civil and criminal legal aid in the most recent year available.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The information sought is not available in the form requested. There were 3.03 million acts of assistance in 1991-92 at a net cost of £906 million, and it is estimated that there will have been 3.39 million acts of assistance in 1992-93. It is not possible to apportion the net cost between plaintiffs and defendants.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how much VAT was paid on legal aid fees, and what was the cost of administering VAT on legal services to those aided, for both civil and criminal legal aid for the most recent available year.
Mr. John M. Taylor : Net expenditure on green form legal advice and assistance in 1991-92 was £95 million. Final figures are not yet available for 1992-93, but it is estimated that expenditure on green form in 1992-93 was £122 million.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what was the total cost of criminal legal aid both gross and net of contributions ordered and VAT in the most recent year available.
Mr. John M. Taylor : In 1991-92, the last year for which final figures are available, expenditure on criminal legal aid was £478 million gross (£474 million net). Expenditure on criminal legal aid 1992-93 is estimated at £535 million gross (£529 million net). It is not possible to identify the total amount of VAT paid in respect of legal services.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what was the number of legally aided defendants who have failed to make any payments as ordered in the most recent year available ; what was the total amount involved ; against how many people recovery proceedings have been commenced ; and what is the amount involved.
Mr. John M. Taylor : In the period from April 1991 to March 1992 a total of 4,239 civil legal aid certificates were revoked due to the non- payment of contributions at a cost to the legal aid fund of £1.9 million. In 1991 approximately 500 criminal cases had legal aid revoked due to the non-payment of contributions. Information on recovery proceedings for non-payment is not available centrally, nor is not possible to determine the costs involved.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what was the number of legally-aided defendants who are in arrears with their contributions as ordered at the most recent available date ; and what is the total still outstanding, the number against whom recovery proceedings have been commenced and the amount involved, for both civil and criminal legal aid.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The information is not available in the form requested. However, in the period from April 1991 to March 1992 a total of 4,239 civil legal aid certificates were revoked as a result of contributions outstanding representing a sum of £1.9 million, compared with 3,598 and £1.6 million in the previous year. Statistics regarding the financial year just ended will become available in June when the Legal Aid Board is due to publish its annual report for 1992-93.
Mr. Fraser : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is his policy towards the proposals of the European Commission to limit production of motor cycles to a maximum engine power producing 100 brake-horse power.
Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : The Government's view is that the current European Commission proposal is unsupported by statistical evidence. We are therefore attempting to broker a compromise on power that will be acceptable to United Kingdom motorcyclists. It is at present too early to anticipate the outcome.
Mr. Norris : The process of licensing airlines in the United Kingdom for the operation of scheduled air services is undertaken by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Within the EC, licensed carriers are entitled to provide services on the basis of their own commercial judgement.
The Secretary of State also has a role in determining appeals on licensing decisions taken by the CAA, including those which involve the issue of scarce bilateral capacity.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the implications for road safety of reflective number plates designed to evade speed camera technology ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : Reflective number plates designed to evade speed camera technology do not work. Photographs of such plates taken by approved speed detection equipment show the number quite clearly and the offence can be followed up in the normal manner. Use of these plates is illegal and the photographs also provide evidence of this offence. So purchasers are not only wasting their money but are also making themselves liable to additional penalties.
These number plates do not comply with the new British standard which is to be published shortly and it will then be made illegal to offer them for sale.
Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : My right hon. Friend announced in "Trunk Roads England into the 1990s" 10 separate schemes for improving sections of the A12 between the M25 and Lowestoft, targeted with a grade separation of Capel St. Mary junction.
The sections to be improved are :
1. M12 motorway between M25 and Chelmsford bypass
2. Chelmsford bypass widening
3. Hatfield Peverel to Marks Tey
4. Four Sisters to Stratford St. Mary
5. Martlesham to Wickham Market
6. Wickham Market to Saxmundham
7. Saxmundham bypass widening
8. Saxmundham to south of Wrentham
9. South of Wrentham to Kessingland
10. Lowestoft relief road
The schemes are in the early stages of statutory procedures and our aim is to have at least selected preferred routes for them all by the end of 1994.
Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : None. The single most effective measure for reducing accident injury for car occupants is the wearing of seat belts. An airbag as a supplement to a seat belt can be provided only at considerable additional cost, and it is for the consumer to decide whether this is justified.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has held with groups representing disabled people on proposals in the Railways Bill to safeguard and improve facilities for access to rail travel for people with disabilities.
Mr. Freeman : I met the Joint Committee on Mobility of Blind and Partially Sighted People in January to discuss their concerns with regard to rail privatisation and I am in regular contact with DPTAC. Officials have recently met representatives of other disability groups including the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation, MENCAP and the Royal National Institute for the Blind.
Mr. David Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to make a decision on the proposed single tender sale by Bournemouth borough council of Bournemouth Transport Ltd. ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Freeman : We are in correspondence with Bournemouth borough council about the sale of Bournemouth Transport Ltd. by open competitive tender. The council has been told that the Secretary of State will not consent to a single tender sale.
Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what dates he has met with (a) the Association of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, (b) the Railway, Maritime and Transport Union and (c) the Transport Salaried Staff Association to discuss the future of railway pensions since the publication of "New Opportunities for the Railways" (Cm. 2012).
(a) ASLEF 27 October 1992 and 24 February 1993.
(b) RMT 13 October 1992 and a meeting is planned for later today. (
(c) TSSA 20 October 1992 and 9 March 1993.
Mr. Freeman : We are encouraging passenger transport authorities and local authorities who own bus companies to sell them voluntarily. If they do so before 31 December 1993 they will be able to devote 100 per cent. of the receipts to projects--after that date 50 per cent of the proceeds will have to be used for the reduction of debt. We intend to introduce legislation to require disposal. Each sale requires the consent of the Secretary of State under the Transport Act 1985. Consent is very unlikely to be given to sales other than by competitive tender except when it was given in principle before 1992.
Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultation he proposes with the employees of municipal bus companies prior to a decision to seek privatised status in accordance with the Transport Act 1985 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many municipal bus companies there are in (a) Wales and (b) England ; and what is his estimate of the number of employees engaged in such companies.
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the members of the working group he has established to review restrictions affecting the domestic house building industry ; and if he will detail the remit that has been given to the group.
The names of the members of the construction deregulation task force are as follows :
Christopher Spackman, Chairman, Bovis Construction Ltd. (Chairman).
David Summerfield, Chief Executive, How Group plc.
Dr. Bernard Rimmer, General Manager (Construction), Slough Estates plc.
Richard Saxon, Partner, Building Design Partnership.
Peter Hulmes, Managing Director, Alfred MacAlpine Construction. Roger Humber, Director, House Builders Federation.
Peter Warry, Chairman, Building Products Division, Norcros plc. Maurice Denyer, Fowler (Bros) Cowfold Ltd.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : My Department has today issued a consultative document seeking views on proposals offering very small companies relief from the compulsory audit requirement. This follows a review of audit and accounting requirements for such companies conducted by my Department in consultation with HM Treasury and the Inland Revenue.
The Department is seeking views on proposals that very small companies may be exempted from audit if shareholders agree. Two alternative approaches have been identified and the Government will decide which option to adopt in the light of responses to the consultative document.
Option A : Abolition
Exemption from the audit requirement, with nothing to replace the auditor or audit report ;
Option B : Replacement
In place of the audit report, a company would be required to provide a compilation report, produced by a suitably qualified independent accountant, confirming that the annual accounts have been prepared from the company's accounting records in accordance with the relevant format and disclosure requirements of the Companies Act 1985. The compilation report would be filed along with the accounts at Companies House. The accounts would include a statement by the directors as to their statutory duties in preparing them.
Option A offers a maximum deregulatory benefit to the companies themselves, while option B offers eligible companies a more limited measure of relief in order to address the concerns of users of accounts.
Companies which would be eligible to take advantage of the audit exemption would be those :
Column 333with an annual turnover below the VAT registration threshold (which my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, recently proposed to increase to £37,600) ;
whose balance sheet total does not exceed £100,000 ;
whose shareholders have unanimously voted to take advantage of the audit exemption ;
which are not public limited companies, part of a group structure or subject to a statute-based regulatory regime, such as the Financial Services Act 1986.
The exemption from the audit requirement would apply to a financial year for companies that, at the end of that year, satisfied all of the above criteria.
A copy of the consultative document has been placed in the Library of the House. Comments should reach my Department by 30 June 1993.
Mr. Eggar : I can assure present and past employees of British Coal with entitlements to concessionary fuel or cash in lieu of fuel, and their eligible dependants, that existing entitlements will be safeguarded before and following privatisation of the industry.
Sir Michael Grylls : To ask the President of the Board of Trade in what circumstances oil companies with licences granted by his Department under previous United Kingdom continental shelf licensing rounds are able to withdraw unilaterally from any exploration and drilling commitments specified in such licences.
Mr. Eggar : There are no circumstances in which companies with licences granted under previous United Kingdom continental shelf licensing rounds are able to withdraw unilaterally from any exploration and drilling commitments specified in such licences. However, a licensee may, by giving to the Minister no less than six months' notice in writing, determine the licence. This right to determine the licence is without prejudice to any obligation or liability imposed or incurred under the terms of the licence.