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Mr. Norris : We believe that some subsidies and tax concessions made available by member states to their domestic shipping industries may constitute illegal state aid within the terms of the treaty of Rome. We have presented detailed information to the EC Commission which has responsibility for the initial consideration of these matters, and we understand that it is currently investigating certain cases.
Mr. Matthew Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received from Southport and Merseyside relating to safety with the new signalling system on Mersey Rail ; and what assessment he has made of the extent to which the travelling public are protected as a result of this new investment.
Mr. Freeman : I am not aware of any representations from Southport and Merseyside. Her Majesty's chief inspecting officer of railways has received representations from the general secretary of ASLEF. The safety assessment by the Health and Safety Executive's railway inspectorate of phase 1 of the new Mersey Rail signalling scheme is almost complete. Her Majesty's railway inspectorate has raised a number of questions with Railtrack. It is anticipated that approval of the works will be granted by the Health and Safety Executive on behalf of the Secretary of State following a satisfactory response to the points raised and a site inspection.
Mr. French : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) from what organisations he has received representations about vehicles with blacked-out windows ;
(2) what is his assessment of the effectiveness of regulation 32 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 ; (3) how many prosecutions have been made under regulation 32 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 in each of the past five years.
Mr. Key : We have received 15 representations about blacked-out windows from members of the public during the last three years. Regulation 32 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 makes the fitment of excessively dark glass illegal. The British and European standards to which this regulation refers requires not less than 70 per cent. light transmission through all window glass. We believe that all vehicle manufacturers comply with this regulation.
Details of prosecutions for obscuration of windows are not available because prosecutions for all construction and use offences are recorded jointly. We understand that the police would be more likely to bring prosecutions under regulation 30 which relates to the driver's view of the road being unobscured. Some police forces have ordered darkened windows to be cleaned, or dark plastic film to be removed, under their vehicle rectification schemes.
Mr. Mike O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) which local authorities have taken over traffic warden duties ; (2) what plans he has to transfer traffic warden duties to local authority responsibility.
Mr. Key : Under the Road Traffic Act 1991, local authorities can apply to the Secretary of State for Transport for designation orders enabling them to use parking attendants to enforce most parking offences in their areas. At present, these offences are enforced by traffic wardens and the police.
Nine London boroughs--Wandsworth, Bromley, Hammersmith and Fulham, Lewisham, Camden, Hackney, Hounslow, Richmond and Southwark--are currently using parking attendants to enforce most parking offences in their areas. It is the Government's intention that all the London boroughs will be enforcing permitted parking by July this year ; by that date, it is expected that the majority of the boroughs will also be enforcing most restricted parking. Enforcement on the red routes in London is to remain with the police and their traffic wardens. The Government are currently preparing guidance for the local authorities outside London which would like to enforce parking offences in their areas. Once the guidance has been published, local authorities outside London will be able to apply to the Secretary of State for designation orders giving them the necessary powers.
Mr. David Porter : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the number of road tax offences reported by police to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, Swansea in the past year ; how many were brought to prosecution ; and what was done with those cases not prosecuted.
Mr. Key [holding answer 28 March 1994] : The number of vehicles reported to the DVLA by the police for alleged vehicle excise duty offences in 1992-93 was 1.8 million. Some 435,000 evaders were penalised, of which 242,000 settled out of court and 193,000 were successfully prosecuted. A further 180,000 evaders were encouraged to relicense their vehicles promptly as a direct result of enforcement activity. In a large proportion of the remaining cases, subsequent checks of the DVLA vehicle register revealed that the vehicles were in fact licensed and no offence had been committed. Other cases were not completed because of defects in offence reports, more than one report being received for the same offence, problems in tracking down offenders, difficulties in serving summonses and availability of resources.
Mr. David Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will deposit in the Library a copy of the report by Edward James Trimble, the Principal Inspector of Accidents, entitled "The Management of Aircraft Passenger Survival in Fire."
Mr. Norris [holding answer 30 March 1994] : The report referred to is the thesis by Dr. E. Trimble undertaken in his own time under the auspices of the faculty of management of Robert Gordon university, Aberdeen. The
Column 94conclusions of this thesis are therefore Dr. Trimble's and not necessarily those of the AAIB or the Department of Transport. The thesis carries a note to this effect. It is therefore not appropriate for copies to be deposited in the Library of the House.
Mr. David Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment he has made of the occasions on which the final approach separations used when there is no additional wake vortex separation requirement for Heathrow are less than the legal minima ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) what were the reasons for the decision by the Civil Aviation Authority to authorise air traffic controllers employed by National Air Traffic Services who are qualified commercial pilots to undertake commercial AOC flying activities during their off-duty rest days ; and if he will make a statement ;
(3) what is the purpose of the National Air Traffic Services Safety Regulation Group interface document ; and if he will place a copy in the Library ;
(4) if the air traffic control separation monitoring function at London air traffic control centre, can respond to aircraft final approach separations applied by controllers at the Heathrow approach radar facility ; what plans there are to re-programme the separation monitoring function ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Norris [holding answer 30 March 1994] : As these four questions all concern matters which are within the responsibility of the CAA, I am asking the chairman of the CAA to write to the hon. Member.
Mr. David Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will call for, and publish, a report from the Civil Aviation Authority as to its view on the research by Dr. E. J. Trimble, the Principal Inspector of Accidents, on the management of aviation passenger survival in situations of aviation fire ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Norris [holding answer 30 March 1994] : the responsibility for the safety regulation of United Kingdom civil aviation, including the provision of passenger safety equipment, rests with the Civil Aviation Authority.
The authority published its view on passenger survival in situations of aviation fire in CAP 586, "Improving Passenger Survivability in Aircraft Fires : A Review". The authority's position on the issue of smokehoods, which is the main issue addressed by Dr. Trimble in his private research, was last published in the civil aviation publication CAP 594. I do not have any plans to call upon the authority to publish a direct response to the research in question from Dr. Trimble. However, I shall bring the hon. Member's question to the attention of the authority and ask it to write to him direct to explain its position regarding the conclusions reached by Dr. Trimble.
Mrs. Helen Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 21 March, Official Report, columns 106-7, which categories of vehicle other than public service were covered by his answer ; and if he will give the corresponding figures for (a) goods vehicles and (b) other vehicles.
Mr. Key [holding answer 28 March 1994] : My answer of 21 March referred to public service vehicles only. the table attached to that answer shows in addition to the PSV figures, the annual roadworthiness sport checks for heavy goods vehicles, light goods vehicles, cars and motor cycles, as well as the traffic enforcement spot checks for heavy goods vehicles.
Mr. Gunnell : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what will be the level of Government funding to each of the PTEs, via the relevant district or regional councils, for payment of Railtrack charges for 1994-95.
(2) what is the total section 20 spending for each PTA area for 1994-95 and that planned for 1995-96 and 1996-97.
Mr. Freeman : Figures are not available for planned section 20 spending in each passenger transport authority area. It is for each passenger transport executive to determine the level of local rail services to be provided, in the light of PTA policies for its area. Assistance to local authority programmes is given through revenue support grant paid by the Department of the Environment in England and the Scottish Office in Scotland. An amount is provided within the all other services block for distribution to district councils in the six English metropolitan county areas in respect of their responsibility for supporting local rail services. For 1994-95 this element will be £112.9 million. In Scotland an amount is included in the aggregate external finance settlement, which for 1994-95 amounts to £35.2 million in respect of supported rail services in the Strathclyde region. These figures reflect estimates of the cost of maintaining services made on the basis of the railway charging principles applicable up to March 1994.
Under the new railway charging systems introduced on 1 April 1994 we expect the headline cost to PTEs of maintaining their existing service levels to increase. We have undertaken to cover the increased cost in 1994-95 by making special grant payments to the six PTAs in England and through similar payments to Strathclyde regional council. These will be sufficient, when taken together with the sums provided through the local government finance system, to cover the full cost to PTEs of maintaining their service levels, including the access charges relating to their services. For 1994- 95 the PTEs will not be making payments direct to Railtrack for the access charges attributable to their rail services, but will be paying the subsidy required by BR to run the trains. BR, in turn, will pay access charges to Railtrack.
Thereafter, we intend to enhance the support provided through the local government finance system to reflect the net increase in the level of support required to maintain existing services in future years.
Mr. David Young : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many children have been killed and injured in school minibuses in the last year.
Mr. Key : In 1992, the latest year for which data are available, it is estimated that 105 school children were slightly injured, and three children were seriously injured in minibuses in journeys to and from school. In addition 193 school children were slightly injured and 19 seriously
Column 96injured in minibuses on journeys other than going to and from school. There were no child fatalities in minibuses in 1992.
Mr. David Young : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has to ensure that no school minibus is used without adequate seat belts being fitted.
Mr. Key : We are currently considering the full technical and cost implications of fitting seat belts in all minibuses and coaches. We hope to publish the conclusions shortly.
Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what advice he gives to local authorities on the provision of pelican crossings where the criteria laid down by his Department are marginally above the traffic and road conditions ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) if he intends to relax the conditions and criteria for the provision of pelican crossings where a community or parish council consider that local conditions demand such a crossing ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Key : The current advice given to local authorities is that the provision of crossings should not rest solely on the volumes of vehicles and pedestrians but should also take into account local features. The advice is contained in departmental advice note TA 52/87 "Design Considerations for Pelican and Zebra Crossings". A copy is in the Library. This advice is non-mandatory and it is entirely a matter for local judgment whether crossings can be justified at specific sites. Revised advice will be published this year which will stress the importance of taking a broad range of local factors into account rather than relying on rigid arithmetic factors.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether any of the consultants retained by him on the Post Office review have advised him of conflicts of interest.
Mr. Heseltine : On a number of occasions the consultants have approached the Department to determine whether work which they were contemplating undertaking for other clients would create a conflict of interest. Each such case has been considered and decided on its merits.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how much has been spent on consultancies relevant to (a) the review of the Post Office and Parcelforce, (b) the review of the DTI research laboratories and the Atomic Energy Authority and (c) the review of the Accounts Services Agency, the Patent Office, Companies House and the Insolvency Service Agency in each of the calendar years 1992 and 1993 ; and how such expenditures are recorded in MINIS returns.
Mr. Eggar : Total expenditure on consultancy advice relating to the Post Office review and privatisation of Parcelforce amounted to £411, 624.12 in the calendar year
Column 971992 and £854,651.35 in 1993. On each of the other reviews a single company was appointed and the individual fees paid to these are commercially confidential. This expenditure is not recorded separately in MINIS. It can be found as part of the running costs or programme budget, as appropriate, in the form "O" of the relevant management unit's MINIS return.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether consultants continue to be employed on the review of Parcelforce and the Post Office ; on what occasions such consultancies have been subject to renewal or renegotiations ; and whether competitive tenders were sought on every such occasion.
Mr. McLoughlin : All appointments of consultants in connection with the Post Office review and the
Column 98privatisation of Parcelforce have been made after a competitive tendering process. The resulting contracts have been extended as appropriate, and some remain in force. Details of individual contracts are commercially confidential.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish a table showing which companies have received launch aid ; what the total receipts and expenditure in cash and current prices has been ; and what receipts and expenditure in current prices are expected to be in the current public expenditure policy period.
Mr. Heseltine : The information on launch aid is in the table :
Past launch Current public expenditure period |aid 1983-84|1994-95 |1995-96 |1996-97 |1997-98 |to 1993-94 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Payments-£ million cash British Aerospace |696.4 |0 |0 |0 |0 |(878.9) Rolls Royce |146.1 |0 |0 |0 |0 |(234.4) Westland |87.5 |2 |0 |0 |0 |(119.5) Shorts |0 |0 |20 |2.5 |0 Receipts-£ million cash British Aerospace |173.5 |28.9 |34.0 |53.5 |53.5 |(182.4) Rolls Royce |240.9 |22.8 |34.8 |24.9 |24.9 |(291.8) Westland |0 |0 |0 |0 |0 Shorts |0 |0 |5 |2.5 |0 Notes: 1. Constant/current prices are in brackets. 2. Constant/current prices are deflated to 1992-93, most recent Treasury deflator index.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he intends to hold a public inquiry into the proposed Humble Hill wind power station, Northumberland.
Mr. Eggar : Discussions on the proposed windfarm are continuing. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will wish to take account of the outcome of those discussions before deciding whether to hold a public inquiry into the application.
Mr. Nigel Griffiths : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will estimate the cost to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission of its inquiry into (a) perfumes and fine fragrances and (b) ice cream supplies.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : The MMC estimates that the cost to it of carrying out these inquiries was £559,000 for fine fragrances and £368,000 for ice cream.
Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how often a ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation will be called ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Needham : The ministerial conference of the proposed World Trade Organisation is to meet every two years.
Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the voting arrangements for member nations of the World Trade Organisation.
Mr. Needham : Each member of the proposed World Trade Organisation will have one vote.
Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether measures to promote (a) sustainable development and (b) environmental protection are enshrined in the constitution establishing the World Trade Organisation.
Mr. Needham : A commitment to sustainable development is set out in the preamble of the proposed agreement establishing the World Trade Organisation. In addition, a work programme on trade and environment issues is to be agreed at the time of the Marrakech ministerial meeting. This will involve examination by the members of the WTO of a wide range of issues associated with the interaction of the rules of the trading system and environmental protection.
Mr. Charles Kennedy : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 29 March, Official Report, column 656 , what further steps he now proposes to take to reschedule the visit to Ital Offshore by Offshore Supplies Office officials ; if he will approach the EU Commission under the terms of the Single European Act ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : The invitation to OSO to visit CIO's fabrication site was unsolicited and was subsequently cancelled by the yard. Despite extensive discussions in the United Kingdom and Sicily, the OSO, working with the consulate general Naples, has been unable to establish grounds for making a formal complaint to the EU Commission about the Judy award.
Mr. John Morris : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what discussions have taken place between BP Chemicals and his Department, and between his Department and the European Commission regarding the substitution of ethylene now being produced at BP Chemicals Baglan Bay from alternative sources.
Mr. Sainsbury : None. This is a matter for commercial decision by the company.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what proposals he has for reversal of the Caparo judgment.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : I have no plans to seek to change the present state of the law.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has for legislation under which the recognised supervisory bodies would owe a duty of care to individual shareholders.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : I have no plans to seek to change the present state of the law.
Ms Primarolo : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will investigate whether there is a case for referring Healthcall to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : Such investigations are a matter for the Director General of Fair Trading, and any concerns the hon. Member has should be directed to him.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the effects on United Kingdom sovereignty of the trade policies of the European Union.
Mr. Heseltine : Under article 113 of the treaty of Rome, the EC acts as a single party in most areas of trade policy. The Commission negotiates for the Community, in
Column 100consultation with member states and subject to Council approval of resulting agreements. The United Kingdom remains a GATT contracting party, and will be an original member of the World Trade Organisation.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what (a) Ministers and (b) staff attended the employment training "94 Environmental Technology" exhibition at Birmingham from 22 to 24 March.
Mr. Heseltine : Due to prior engagements no DTI Minister was able to attend the ET "94 Environmental Technology" exhibition. However, the DTI once again exhibited and also organised two seminars on the capabilities of United Kingdom environmental technology suppliers and export opportunities.
Mr. Gareth Wardell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it a mandatory requirement that all aerosol sprays which carry a "Flammable" warning label should also carry the flame symbol.
Mr. Heseltine : The use of the flame symbol is governed by Commission directive 67/548/EEC as amended, which has been implemented in this country by the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging) Regulations 1993. The directive and these implementing regulations require the symbol to be used only where a product is labelled "Extremely Flammable" or "Highly Flammable" and not just "Flammable".
Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what reports other than the principal report by Wilde Sapte and Maclay Murray and Spens entitled "Information and Protection of Transactions concerning Immovable Property Purchased by Consumers" have been commissioned by the European Commission in areas which might reasonably be expected to have an impact upon the detailed regulation of the United Kingdom's manufacturing and construction industries ; if he will make it his policy in future to notify the House and industry of the commissioning of all such reports in future ; and if he will make arrangements to ensure that British industry has the opportunity to be consulted in the preparation of all such reports.
Mr. Heseltine : The European Commission does not inform the United Kingdom Government of all the reports which it commissions.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what information he has concerning the extent to which copies of the principal report by Wilde Sapte and Maclay Murray and Spens entitled "Information and Protection of Transactions concerning Immovable Property Purchased by Consumers" are available in other member countries of the European Community ; what consultation about the recommendations of the report has been undertaken with industry in those countries ; and what preliminary conclusions have been reached by the European Commission on those recommendations.
Mr. Heseltine : The Commission has not officially released the report, although we understand that some
Column 101copies are in circulation. It is understood that the Commission has no plans at present to take forward the recommendations in the report.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether Her Majesty's Government were approached or consulted by Wilde Sapte and Maclay Murray and Spens during the research which they recently undertook and which led to the production of a principal report entitled "Information and Protection of Transactions concerning Immovable Property Purchased by Consumers".
Mr. Heseltine : The Office of Fair Trading and the Lord Chancellor's Department were approached during the research before the report was made.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the cost to the European Commission of the principal report by Wilde Sapte and Maclay Murray and Spens entitled "Information and Protection of Transactions concerning Immovable Property Purchased by Consumers" ; by whom, specifically, that report was commissioned ; what is the status of that report ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Heseltine : The European Commission has not disclosed the cost of the report which it commissioned. The status of the report is that it is an unreleased confidential report made to the European Commission.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what plans he has to circulate copies of the principal report by Wilde Sapte and Maclay Murray and Spens entitled "Information and Protection of Transactions concerning Immovable Property Purchased by Consumers" to the Confederation of British Industry, the National Association of Estate Agents, the Building Societies Association, the Building Employers Confederation, the Personal Investment Authority, the Law Society and all those financial services regulatory bodies whose members are involved in the provision of advice about lending in connection with immovable property purchase ;
(2) pursuant to his answer of 22 March, Official Report, column 204, whether he now intends to make available to industry copies of the principal report by Wilde Sapte and Maclay Murray and Spens entitled, "Information and Protection of Transactions concerning Immovable Property Purchased by Consumers" ; and if he will invite the comments of industry on the recommendations of that document ; (3) what plans he has to bring forward proposals to change the law in any of those areas which are his responsibility and which were included in the recommendations of the principal report by Wilde Sapte and Maclay Murray and Spens entitled "Information and Protection of Transactions concerning Immovable Property Purchased by Consumers".
Mr. Heseltine : The Government are not entitled to make public the contents of a confidential report which is the property of the European Commission.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the President of the Board of Trade when his Department was first approached under aid and trade provisions for support for the Pergau dam ; by which firm he was approached ; and if he will set out, the dates of each step in the main sequence of events in his Department's consideration of the application.
Mr. Needham : According to DTI records, DTI officials were in frequent discussions during the summer of 1988 with Balfour Beatty and GEC about the Ulu Jelai hydro-electric project, which these two companies had formed a consortium to pursue, and for which they had applied for ATP in July 1988. On 20 September representatives of these companies expressed to DTI officials their interest in Pergau and GEC indicated that it was intending to apply for ATP for that project, rather than for Ulu Jelai. Subsequently a formal application for ATP dated 11 November was submitted by Balfour Beatty on behalf of the United Kingdom consortium. The industrial and commercial benefits that ATP support would bring to the United Kingdom were then assessed by DTI officials. Following approval by the then Minister for Trade on 20 January the ATP case paper was circulated to other Government Departments for consideration on 24 January 1989.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the dates and give the actual changes that occurred in the costs of the Pergau dam project and the detailed reasons that were given for the changes in costs.
Mr. Needham : A formal ATP application with a contract value of £315 million was lodged by Balfour Beatty on behalf of the United Kingdom consortium on 11 November 1988. On 3 March 1989 the United Kingdom consortium submitted a revised price of £316 million broken down by its various elements. No reason was given for the increase but it was known that the United Kingdom consortium had been working on its price since November 1988. Information on the further price rises to £397 million and £417 million respectively is contained in the National Audit Office report on the Pergau hydro-electric project, dated 22 October 1993. Copies of this are available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the projects approved under, and give the regional distribution of expenditure incurred within each of the technology transfer programmes relating to (a) advanced control technology, (b) biochemical engineering and (c) neural computing technology in each of the last five years.
Mr. McLoughlin : The details requested could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.