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Mr. Key : These five questions concerning the use of porous asphalt relate to operational matters of the Highways Agency. I have asked the chief executive, Mr. Lawrie Haynes, to write to the hon. Member. Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Mr. Mike O'Brien, dated 20 May 1994 :
Column 159The Minister for Roads and Traffic, Mr. Robert Key, has asked me to write to you in response to the five questions you asked relating to the use of porous asphalt.
The Department, in conjunction with TRL and industry, has been investigating the design and production of porous asphalt surfacings for many years including taking account of developments abroad. This work included laboratory tests as well as longer term road trials to optimise the performance of porous asphalt. These trials included sites on the A38 at Burton on Trent, the M1 south of Leeds and the M6 north of Junction 18 in Cheshire.
The successful outcome of these trials led to the Minister's announcement on 28 July 1992, that porous asphalt surfacing could be used on schemes in future where the conditions were suitable, benefits outweigh the higher cost and the needs for more expensive winter maintenance and more frequent resurfacing. Porous asphalt is not suitable for use on all roads. The criteria on which decisions are based for adopting porous asphalt surfacings are set out in Volume 7 of the Department's Design Manual for Roads and Bridges at document HD27/94 entitled "Pavement Construction Methods" and published in January 1994. These advise it is not used where traffic exceeds 4,000 commercial vehicles per lane per day.
Use of porous asphalt surfacing has been approved for a number of schemes within criteria laid down. Additionally, use has been approved on two lengths of the M25 where the traffic exceeds 4,000 commercial vehicles per lane per day in order to gain experience of the more durable mixtures at higher traffic levels.
Apart from the trial applications mentioned above, two other projects are under construction where porous asphalt is due to be laid. The schemes are :
A5 Fazely-Two Gates-Wilnecote BP
A50 Blyth Bridge-Queensway Improvement
The above information relates purely to roads in England. Porous asphalt has also been laid by local authorities on roads for which they are responsible.
Use of porous asphalt, as with any other surfacing material, is subject to EC directives and regulations on safety. Additionally specifiers are bound within the Public Procurement Directive. In accordance with this requirement the Technical guidance, as given in document HD27/94, was notified to the EC under the terms of the Notification Directive.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what instructions are in force on the nationalities of crew and officers of fishing and merchant vessels registered under the national flags of (a) Denmark, (b) Italy, (c) Greece, (d) Germany and (e) the Netherlands.
Mr. Norris : With regard to merchant vessels I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Wallasey (Ms Walley) on 28 April, Hansard, column 598. The Department does not collect information on manning requirements for fishing vessels.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many foreign-owned merchant and fishing vessels are registered under the national flags of (a) France, (b) Germany, (c) Denmark and (d) the Netherlands.
Mr. Sumberg : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many properties have been purchased by his Department within the Bury, South constituency arising out of his proposals for the M62 relief road ;
(2) how many properties have been let by his Department within the Bury, South constituency arising
Column 160out of his proposals for the M62 relief road ; and how many of such properties have their rent paid in whole or in part out of public funds.
Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Mr. David Sumberg, dated 23 May 1994 :
I refer to your two questions to the Secretary of State for Transport tabled in the House for written reply on 20 May, about properties purchased and let in connection with the proposed M62 Relief Road. As Robert Key has explained to the House, these are operational matters on which I have been asked to reply.
We have now completed purchase on 89 properties within the Bury South constituency. Of these, 17 have been let by our interim letting agent. As far as we are aware, none of these properties has their rents paid in whole or part, from public funds. In all cases our letting agents have provided an employer's reference for the tenant. As I explained in a previous reply, a full management agreement will be offered for tender shortly. The present agents are having to deal with a large number of properties becoming available over a short period. In addition, we are finding that some properties require repair and maintenance before they are in a suitable condition for letting.
(2) what was the (a) budgeted and (b) actual expenditure on the abandoned south London route alignment to the channel tunnel.
Mr. Wilkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has to increase the daily number of civil aircraft movements permitted at Royal Air Force Northolt ; what discussions he has held on these proposals with the Secretary of State for Defence ; and what consultation he has had with the local hon. Member or neighbouring residents about them.
Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will instruct the Franchising Director to include the existing sleeper services between Scotland and England in the contract with operators of the west coast main line.
Mr. Freeman : My right hon. Friend has instructed the Franchising Director that his specification of minimum service levels for railway passenger services is to be based on that being provided by BR immediately prior to franchising, taking into account the existence of and justification for seasonal variations in service schedules. The Franchising Director will consult the appropriate local authorities and rail users consultative committees on his
Column 161proposals for the minimum service specifications for franchised operations on the west coast main line in due course.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to provide a long-term integrated transport and environmental strategy after consultation with the Secretary of State for the Environment.
"Sustainable Development : the UK Strategy", which was the result of detailed discussions between my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and me, set out the principles by which the Government develop their transport policies. These include the following aims :
--To strike the right balance between the ability of transport to serve economic development and the ability to protect the environment and sustain further quality of life.
--To provide for the economic and social needs for access with less need for travel.
--To take measures which reduce the environmental impact of transport and influence the rate of traffic growth.
--To ensure that users pay the full social and environmental cost of their transport decisions, so improving the overall efficiency of those decisions for the economy as a whole and bringing environmental benefits.
We are pursuing a range of policies consistent with these aims.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about the closure to traffic of an area of the English channel on 5 and 6 April due to a Sea Wolf missile failing to explode during a Royal Navy exercise.
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to him on 4 May, Official Report, column 550.
Mr. Charles Wardle : Methods of investigation are a matter of operational discretion for chief officers of police. In 1988 the Home Office issued guidance to the police discouraging the use of hypnosis in the investigation of offences, on the grounds that evidence obtained by this method would be likely to be both unreliable and inadmissible in court, as well as carrying a risk of harm to the witness. We have no plans to issue further guidance on this subject.
Column 162alcohol or taking drugs. Numbers of offences of causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs are included with the number of offences of causing death by dangerous driving. The figures are published in Home Office Statistical Bulletins "Motoring Offences" and "Notifiable Offences", copies of which are held in the Library.
The 1988 British Crime Survey provides some evidence on how many victims of violent crime said the offender was drunk. Of all the violent incidents covered in the survey, 44 per cent. were said to involve a drunken offender. One out of two victims of street assaults cited a drunken offender, and four out of 10 female victims of domestic violence did so.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people entering the United Kingdom in 1993 were detained by immigration officials ; and from this figure what percentage were released without charge.
Mr. Charles Wardle : The available information relates to passengers detained overnight or longer, and there were 5,571 such persons in 1993. Persons detained under Immigration Act powers are generally not charged with a criminal offence, but on release are either removed from the country or granted leave to enter. There is no central record of how such cases are resolved.
Mr. Meale : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) pursuant to his answer of 12 April, Official Report , columns 2-3 , for how much longer the project licence issued under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 for the use of non purpose-bred greyhounds in research will be valid ;
(2) if any of the greyhounds used in scientific procedures in 1992 were ex- greyhound racing registered dogs ;
(3) if any exemptions have been granted under article 10(3) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 to allow the use of non purpose-bred greyhounds since 1992-93.
In 1992, 10 procedures were carried out on four greyhounds which were racing registered at the time of the study. We are not aware that any of the other non purpose-bred dogs used in procedures in 1992 were ex-racing registered dogs.
No exemptions have been granted since 1992-93. This would not preclude the use of non purpose-bred greyhounds under project licences previously issued.
Dr. Marek : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the present number of civil servants taking legal action against his Department as a result of work-related upper limb disorders.
I have asked the Director General of the Prison Service to write to the hon. Member about the number of such legal actions being taken in the Prison Service.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis on the reports of activities of a police officer, details of which have been sent to him.
Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 9 May Official Report , columns 10-11 on leave to remain on the basis of a common law relationship, (a) how many of the partnerships had children and (b) how many of the relationships had been in existence for more than four years.
Dame Jill Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the present ratio of prisoners to prison officers, taking into account staff away on escort duties, in court and on sick leave.
Letter from Derek Lewis to Dame Jill Knight, dated 25 May 1994 : The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the ratio of prisoners to prison officers, taking into account staff away on escort duties, in court and on sick leave.
The ratio of prisoners to prison officers varies between establishments, but, as at 19 May 1994, the overall ratio of
Column 164prisoners to prison officers, including senior officers and principal officers, was 2.01 : 1. Figures for the number of staff scheduled to be on duty on that day, whether at their establishment or on court or escort duty, and of those on sick leave, are not held centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Meale : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider making a distinction between purpose-bred and non-purpose bred cats and dogs when compiling any future animal statistics used in licensed scientific procedures.
Mr. Charles Wardle : The Government have no plans to make the distinction suggested. However, changes which are being introduced to the statistical system will make it possible to distinguish, from 1995 onwards, between dogs and cats which have been bred at or obtained from a designated breeding establishment, and those which have been obtained from other sources.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the specialist operations at Scotland Yard together with their annual cost for the last year for which figures are available.
Mr. Charles Wardle : In the interests of security, it is Home Office policy not to reveal details, including costs, of individual special operation branches. The annual staffing cost of the branches to 31 March 1994 is around £158 million. This figure represents the average of salaries for the ranks and grades involved.
Mrs. Ann Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what recent discussions he has had with the Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis about the future of the obscene publications branch ; and if he will make a statement ; (2) what recent representations he has received from right hon. and hon. Members concerning the future of the obscene publications branch ; and how many of those representations have (a) opposed and (b) supported the disbanding of that branch ;
(2) what plans there are for the disbandment of the obscene publications branch at New Scotland Yard ; what is the reason for such action ; and what assessment he has made of the effect of such a measure on the operational capability of the police, both in London and nationally.
Mr. Charles Wardle : Metropolitan police headquarters functions and specialist units, such as the obscene publications branch, fall within scope of the Commissioner's restructuring exercise, which aims to make the best possible use of resources and to place functions where they are most appropriate. My right hon. and learned Friend has discussed this matter with the Commissioner during their regular meetings.
Mrs. Roche : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the maltreatment of overseas domestic workers ; and what measures he is taking in response to the recent cross- party delegation on this issue.
Mrs. Roche : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were granted entry clearance at posts abroad to come in to the United Kingdom as overseas domestic workers under the 1980 concession after 31 August 1993.
Mr. Charles Wardle : In the past year, my right hon. and learned Friend and I have received 22 letters from right hon. and hon. Members and noble Lords about the exceptional arrangements for the admission of domestic workers from overseas. I met a delegation led by my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington (Mr. Fishburn) and Lord Hylton. A number of letters have been received from organisations and members of the public.
Mrs. Roche : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many overseas domestic workers have applied for a visa extension since August 1993 ; and how many of these applications have been granted.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what special arrangements the Government have instituted regarding the issue of entry clearance to family members of Somali nationals resident in the United Kingdom who are stranded in Yemen.
We have no special arrangements for the issue of entry clearances in Yemen for any single nationality. Although the visa service has been suspended following the evacuation of staff last week, inquiries can be addressed to the British embassy in Sana'a which remains open.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will list for each of the past 10 years those occasions on which the Office of Parliamentary Counsel has been requested to supply amendments or new clauses to Back Benchers for use in debate on private Members Bills in which Departments have an interest.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will institute an inquiry into the use of the Office of Parliamentary Counsel by Departments to draft amendments or new clauses for use by Back Benchers in relation to debate on private Members Bills, and the effect on the timetable for preparation of amendments to Government legislation occasioned by such use of the personnel of the office.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what steps he is taking to provide support for voluntary organisations funded by the European social fund who have received no payments from the fund for the financial year commenced in January.