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Mr. Michael Forsyth [holding answer 15 July 1994] :
Internationally comparable ILO based unemployment figures are not available for unified Germany. However, in June 1994, unadjusted registered unemployment in unified Germany stood at 3,594,590. No equivalent rate of unemployment is available.
5. Mr. Nigel Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what monitoring his Department is doing of the railway privatisation fees being paid to consultants.
Mr. Freeman : Officials closely monitor the government's rail privatisation consultancy expenditure to ensure value for money in accordance with government accounting and financial procedures. The consultancy expenditure of BR and Railtrack is a matter for them.
7. Mr. Mans : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made on the west coast main line reinvestment project under the private finance initiative.
15. Mr. Matthew Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made on the west coast main line reinvestment project under the private finance initiative.
Mr. Freeman : In March, Railtrack appointed a private sector consortium--West Coast Main Line Development Company Ltd.--to work with it to produce design standards for the line and to recommend funding options for the project. The joint study is expected to be completed by the end of the year. A further competition will then be held for the contract to undertake the upgrading work. That contract is expected to be let in mid- 1995 and the works will start as soon as possible thereafter.
12. Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has held with local authorities in the north-east of Scotland relating to proposals for involving them in the completion of the electrification of the east coast main line beyond Edinburgh.
Mr. Freeman : A local group--CREATE, campaign for rail electrification Aberdeen to Edinburgh--comprising local and district councils, trades councils and chambers of commerce, is due to release a report by the end of July in conjunction with Scotrail, on the feasibility of the electrification of the line between Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
13. Sir Fergus Montgomery : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what actions he has taken to date to follow-up the recommendations in Lord Donaldson's report in relation to the European Union.
Mr. Norris : We have identified a number of recommendations, particularly those on improving port state control, transponders, provision of salvage tugs and funding, which we wish to pursue with our European partners. Copies of the report were circulated to EU Transport and Environment Ministers in May and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State raised those issues at the European Transport Council meeting in Luxembourg last month. We are greatly encouraged by the initial response from our European colleagues and we shall be taking these matters forward with them.
16. Mrs. Browning : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will announce the conclusion of his review of road signing for commerce and tourism.
Mr. Key : On tourism, I had hoped to introduce a new regime this summer. We have been working with the Department of National Heritage on the introduction of a more flexible system for tourist signing. We have also consulted the local authority associations. I hope that the industry will be able to agree to the introduction of my proposals in good time for next year's season. I have already consulted the industry on the introduction of more flexible commercial signing and expect to issue guidelines later this year.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will give the 1992-93 annual staff report markings broken down by grade 6 to AA, including typist and support grades, by gender.
Mr. Norris : According to the Department's computerised staff record, annual staff report markings for grade 6 to AA administrative staff in the Department of Transport, including its agencies, were as attached. Figures for typist and support grades are not broken down so as to ensure that individual members of staff cannot be identified.
Grade |1 |2 |3 |4 |5 |Total ---------------------------------------------------------------- G6 Male |2 |16 |3 |0 |0 |21 G6 Female |0 |0 |0 |0 |0 |0 G7 Male |10 |103 |81 |1 |0 |195 G7 Female |7 |27 |10 |0 |0 |44 SEO Male |4 |111 |82 |2 |0 |199 SEO Female |1 |29 |20 |0 |0 |50 HEO Male |9 |223 |207 |8 |0 |447 HEO Female |9 |116 |92 |1 |1 |219 EO Male |8 |258 |307 |7 |1 |581 EO Female |9 |307 |295 |3 |0 |614 AO Male |10 |377 |509 |11 |3 |910 AO Female |25 |851 |1,049|16 |1 |1,942 AA Male |16 |215 |311 |10 |3 |555 AA Female |44 |804 |955 |16 |2 |1,821 Typist Grades Male |0 |0 |2 |0 |0 |2 Typist Grades Female |30 |270 |211 |3 |0 |514 Support Grades Male |3 |47 |98 |2 |0 |150 Support Grades Female |0 |37 |79 |0 |0 |116 Total Male |62 |1,350|1,600|41 |7 |3,060 Total Female |125 |2,441|2,711|39 |4 |5,320
17. Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to be able to make a statement on the recommendations of the RUCATSE report on runway capacity in the south-east.
Mr. Norris : We expect to make a statement giving the Government's response to RUCATSE some time before the end of the year.
24. Mr. Peter Ainsworth : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations he has received regarding the building of a second runway at Gatwick airport.
Mr. Norris : The RUCATSE working group considered a number of possible locations for additional runway capacity to serve the south-east. After the group published its report in July 1993, a period of public consultation was announced. That consultation period ended on 31 May this year. In response to that consultation, my Department has received some 350 responses from organisations and some 4,100 letters from the public, of which some 2,860 referred specifically to the option of runway development at Gatwick.
19. Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to increase facilities for low cost public transport within the south-east of England over the next five years.
Mr. Freeman : The Government's policies of deregulation, privatisation and competition will ensure greater efficiency and better value for money in the provision of public transport services. The package approach will make it easier for local authorities to fund improvements in public transport facilities.
20. Sir David Madel : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the comparative effects on the environment of 44 and 38-tonne lorries.
Mr. Key : As my right hon. Friend replied to my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, West (Sir A. Durant) on
Column 7021 March Official Report, column 10, we see a positive advantage in the use of 44-tonne lorries for combined road-rail transport. That means fewer lorries and it transfers freight from road to rail and so benefits the environment.
21. Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received regarding the elimination of competition in bus services following bus company mergers/takeovers since the Transport Act 1985.
Mr. Freeman : The bus industry is dynamic and changing. The spur competition and privatisation has reduced it costs and made it more responsive to the market. Recent developments may well lead to efficiency gains ; it is important to maintain a healthy level of competition, which is why all qualifying mergers are considered for reference to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
25. Mr. Ian Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to encourage freight to be moved by rail rather than by road in and around Surrey.
Mr. Freeman : We are encouraging rail freight in a number of ways. We have liberalised access to the rail network, facilitated the restructuring of BR's freight businesses before sale, improved the freight facilities grants scheme, introduced a new track access grant for marginal freight flows and raised the maximum gross vehicle weight limit to 44 tonnes for combined road/rail transport.
26. Mr. Jenkin : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what obligations exist upon Network SouthEast and InterCity to co-ordinate passenger services in the event of the failure of a particular train to run on the lines serving commuters in Essex.
Mr. Freeman : We expect operators of services to co-operate in the event of breakdowns to ensure that passengers are not left stranded. It is not, however, always practicable to stop the first InterCity train which follows a breakdown on a commuter service.
27. Mr. Robathan : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he has taken to encourage bicyling.
Mr. Key : We are continuing our work to make roads safer for cyclists and to give guidance to local authorities and others in making good provision for cycling. The package approach which we have introduced for local transport expenditure gives local authorities greater flexibility to allocate funds for cycling. We are also seeking co-operative initiatives with outside bodies to improve understanding of the value of cycling and to promote changes in conditions that will allow it to flourish. Copies of the Government's recent statement are in the Library.
Mr. Robathan : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with his colleagues at the Departments of Health, for Education and of the Environment about encouraging children to bicycle to school, in order to reduce pollution and congestion, while encouraging health.
Mr. Key : We recognise the potential to reduce pollution and congestion, if more people were to choose to cycle. Our recent statement on cycling policy emphasises the importance of changing perceptions of cycling and improving conditions for it. I have not discussed with colleagues encouraging children to cycle to school. It is primarily a matter for parents to judge whether cycling to school is a safe and reasonable option, given local circumstances, and to press for improved facilities should those be necessary. Ways of improving health, including through cycling, have been discussed by Ministers of the Departments mentioned as part of the "Health of the Nation" initiative.
28. Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about progress on the privatisation of London Buses.
Mr. Norris : The privatisation of London Buses Ltd. is now well under way. There is strong competition among bidders for the 10 operating companies and London Transport is on track to complete the sales by the end of the year.
Mr. Simon Coombs : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many miles of wire rope central reservation barrier have now been provided (a) in the United Kingdom and (b) on the M4 ; and how many additional miles have been planned.
Mr. Key : Some 196.5 miles of wire rope safety fencing has been installed in the central reserve of dual carriageways at 74 different locations throughout the United Kingdom's road network. Included in this total is the 16.5 miles of wire rope safety fencing on the M4 motorway. Because the wire rope and the traditional tensioned corrugated beam safety fences are normally included in highway contracts as equivalent alternative vehicle restraint systems, and are therefore subject to competitive tendering procedures, I am unable to say how many additional miles of wire rope safety fencing have been planned.
Sir Geoffrey Pattie : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 1 July, Official Report, column 772, what estimate he has made of the likely increase in motorway capacity that the use of variable speed limits, electronic sensors and message signs might produce.
Mr. Key : None ; additional throughput is one of the potential benefits that will be assessed during the 12-month period of operation of the pilot scheme. Reports have been received of additional capacity of 5 to 10 per cent. on similar systems already in use on the continent, but evidence to support those reports has yet to be produced.
23. Ms Hodge : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration he has given to an alternative route for the channel tunnel rail link through Barking under Barking Reach.
Mr. Freeman : Since the rail link's easterly approach to London was selected in 1991, Union Railways has considered various alignments through Barking, both on the surface and in tunnel, crossing Barking Reach and following the existing railway corridor. In consecutive reports to the Government, of March and October 1993, Union Railways presented a surface routeing along the existing London, Tilbury and Southend line, with the alternative of a tunnel following the same alignment. After careful consideration, my right hon. Friend concluded that the surface routeing should be chosen.
Mr. Gunnell : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport by what year he expects both direct freight and direct passenger services through the channel tunnel from starting points in West Yorkshire.
Mr. Freeman : The timing and routes for services through the channel tunnel are a matter for European Passenger Services and British Rail, who are responsible for providing them.
Mrs. Lait : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about improvements to the A259 between Hastings and Dymchurch.
Mr. Key : There are a number of schemes in the road programme for comprehensively improving the whole of the south coast trunk route including the section of the A259 between Hastings and Dymchurch. The schemes are at various stages of development.
A public consultation was held last year for the A259 Guestling Thorn and Icklesham bypass but this proved inconclusive. No clear view emerged on the best scheme to take forward in this unique landscape. However, the Government remain committed to improving the A27/A259 route and we must look for a solution for this length. We have therefore decided to hold a scheme planning conference. Although we are still looking in some detail at the lessons from the recent trials at Hereford and Bodmin, we are sufficiently confident in the outcome there to believe that a conference will help at Guestling Thorn and Icklesham. To avoid limiting options, the conference will cover the area from Guestling Thorn and Winchelsea to east of Rye. The necessary arrangements will now be put in hand and a detailed announcement will be made in due course.
Column 73Draft proposals have been published for three schemes for the improvement of the A259 between New Romney and Dymchurch and a public inquiry will be held to consider the proposals and objections to them later this year. We also have plans for bypasses of Bexhill and Hastings. Following public consultation, a preferred route for the Bexhill and Hastings western bypass was announced in December 1990 and for the Hastings eastern bypass in June 1991. Detailed design work is under way, with a view to publishing draft statutory orders for these schemes later this year.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 28 April, Official Report, column 268, what appropriate action has been taken with the owners of tankers transiting the Minch against the recommendations agreed internationally since November 1993.
Mr. Norris : The Department has written to the owners of the seven contravening tankers. Their responses have been positive, with the result that the owners of six of the vessels involved have issued an instruction to avoid the Minch and none of the seven has since transited the Minch.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of the cost-benefit analysis 9 framework statement for each road scheme costing over £1 million that has been approved by his Department and that is (a) currently under construction or (b) scheduled for construction.
Mr. Key : The information requested can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will give a breakdown of the bill for services supplied by Bray's Detective Agency for gathering information on protestors at Twyford Down.
Mr. Key : This question relates 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. Harry Cohen, dated 18 July 1994 :
I have been asked to respond to your recent Parliamentary Question requesting a breakdown of the cost of employing Bray's Detective Agency (Southampton) to gather evidence of trespass on the M3 construction site near Winchester.
The information is as follows :
|£ ------------------------------------------------------------ Collection and processing of evidence |204,490.70 Travel and subsistence expenses |4,536.30 Equipment and other expenses |5,229.10 VAT |37,400.27 |------- Total |251,656.37
Mr. Llwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the natural occurrence of benzene in the atmosphere ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : I have been asked to reply.
Most benzene emissions are man made and it is widely distributed as a trace atmospheric constituent over urban and industrial regions of north-west Europe. Concentrations of benzene in the atmosphere show daily and seasonal cycles resulting from emission activities and chemistry occurring in the atmosphere.
Rural benzene measurements have been made in Oxfordshire at the Harwell laboratory since about 1986. Average concentrations at this rural site are about 0.8 ppb. Measurements made by the university of East Anglia at a rural site in Norfolk show a similar mean concentration to that observed at the Harwell site, whereas measurements at a remote rural site in Cumbria exhibited mean benzene concentrations of 0.4 ppb.
Measurements have been made in the remote northern hemisphere troposphere and in the southern hemisphere troposphere. Benzene concentrations were found to be 0.07 ppb in the northern hemisphere and less than 0.02 ppb in the southern hemisphere. Those figures, collected in the remote background atmosphere, give a sign of what may be described at the level of natural occurrence of benzene.
Mr. Llwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what evaluation he has made of the genotoxic nature of benzene in the atmosphere ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Key : This is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the basis on which he has proposed efficiency cuts to (a) the Coastguard Agency and (b) the Marine Safety Agency.
Mr. Norris : No decisions have yet been taken about the basis for efficiency gains in either agency.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information was provided to his Department by British Nuclear Fuels in connection with the recent air shipment of plutonium-based mixed oxide nuclear fuel assemblies to Switzerland ; and what information he has received on future plans to fly plutonium from United Kingdom airports to foreign customers.
Mr. Norris : The Department was given advance notification of the shipment. No details of any future similar shipments have been received.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what additional work arising out of the Donaldson inquiry he expects to be undertaken by the Marine Safety Agency.
Mr. Norris : The Government are examining all the recommendations of the Donaldson report. Many of those
Column 75will require further analysis or development, some of which will have to be undertaken by the Marine Safety Agency. The extent and nature of that work will be announced in the Government's detailed response to the report later this year.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list by grade for each of the last five years the number of substantive staff employed by the Marine Safety Agency and its predecessors.
Mr. Norris : It is not possible to give a breakdown of the numbers of staff by grades employed for each of the last five years by the predecessor of the Marine Safety Agency, the surveyor general's office. The total staff complement of the SGO for each of the last five years was as follows :
|Numbers ----------------------------- 1 April 1989 |398 1 April 1990 |361 1 April 1991 |361 1 April 1992 |347 1 April 1993 |356
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 14 June, Official Report, column 521 , (1) what estimates have been made by the DVLA of the total number and value of vehicle excise discs that will have to be stored on car dealers' premises in any one year if the AFRL scheme is fully implemented across the country ;
(2) what constitutes a secure environment for vehicle excise discs ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Key : The hon. Member can be assured that the position of the Exchequer has been safeguarded in the security arrangements made, which include storage in appropriate safes. It would compromise the measures taken if I were to provide full details, just as it would to draw attention to the number and value of the discs to be held.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when staff in his Department are due to receive their 1994 pay awards ; when staff employed in the Driving Standards Agency and the Vehicle Inspectorate are due to receive their 1994 pay awards ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Key : The pay of staff in most parts of the Department of Transport is negotiated centrally. The 1994 pay award to staff in grades represented by the Civil and Public Services Association has been agreed and will be paid at the end of August. The settlement for staff in grades represented by the National Union of Civil and Public Servants is expected shortly. The two other main groups of staff have a later settlement date. Performance pay increases are handled separately.
Three of the Department's agencies--the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, the Driving Standards Agency and the Vehicle
Inspectorate--bargain on pay directly with staff representatives. Pay negotiations between the DVLA and the unions are at an advanced stage. DSA and VI intend commencing negotiations shortly. Once settlement is reached all three agencies will implement their pay awards without delay.
Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of trains travelling between London and Plymouth have arrived (a) on time, (b) within five minutes and (c) within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time in each of the last three years.
Mr. Freeman : The following figures are for the London to the west of England service group as a whole. Figures for London to Plymouth alone are not available. Services arriving within 15 minutes are not measured. Services arriving within 10 minutes of the scheduled time have been included instead.
Per cent. Year |On time |Within |Within |5 minutes |10 minutes ------------------------------------------------------- 1991 |62.6 |75.6 |83.1 1992 |61.2 |75.3 |83.8 1993 |61.9 |75.1 |83.9
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list for each of the last five years the number of substantive coastguard grades employed by his Department.
Mr. Norris : The attached table gives a breakdown for the last five years of the number of substantive coastguard grades.
Numbers of coastguard grades Grade |1990 |1991 |1992 |1993 |1994 -------------------------------------------------------------------- Coastguard Officer |385 |390 |385 |377 |381 Station Officer |57 |50 |49 |56 |48 District Officer |26 |24 |24 |25 |26 Inspector |7 |7 |7 |10 |10 Principal Inspector |8 |8 |8 |8 |7 Chief Coastguard |1 |1 |1 |1 |1 |-------|-------|-------|-------|------- Totals |<1>484 |<1>480 |<1>474 |<1>477 |<2>473 <1>As at 31 December. <2>As at 14 July 1994.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will list by grade and location the number of staff in his Department who have been disciplined for assault on either another member of staff or a member of the public over each of the last 10 years ;
(2) if he will list for the last 10 years, by grade, the number of staff in his Department disciplined for assault and the disciplinary penalty imposed for each case ;
(3) if he will list for the last 10 years by grade the number of staff of his Department or its agencies dismissed for assault.
Mr. Norris : Information held centrally by the Department relates only to the past five years. There have been two cases in that period, both occurring in 1991. To give further details of grade and location might enable the individuals to be identified. The penalties imposed in those cases were respectively dismissal and a severe reprimand. In the former case, the officer decided to resign before being dismissed. Information relating to earlier years is held on individual personnel files and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what factors have led to the Driving Standards Agency considering reintroducing the nine test day ;
(2) under what authority the Driving Standards Agency undertakes pay negotiations ;
(3) if he will list for each of the last five years the number of substantive driving examiners employed by the Driving Standards Agency ;
(4) if he will list the reasons for the cancellation of the block booking facility for LGV/PCV and motor cycle driving tests ; (5) when the Vehicle Inspectorate intends to enter into negotiations with trade unions regarding their 1994 pay claim ; (6) what considerations underlay the exclusion of the Driving Standards Agency from the national civil service pay settlement.
Mr. Key : Responsibility for the subject of these questions has been delegated to the Driving Standards Agency under its chief executive, Dr. Ford, and I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from G. Lobo to Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody, dated 13 July 1994 :
The Secretary of State has asked the Chief Executive to reply to the questions you have raised about DSA's operations. I am replying as Dr. Ford is on annual leave.
You asked what factors led to the Driving Standards Agency considering re- introducing the nine test day.
At the recent Scottish Driving Examiners' Conference, some driving examiners suggested that the 3.35 pm test, the last one, should not be programmed in winter in some areas as it was often conducted in artificial (street) lighting. This in effect would reduce the current 8-day test day to a 7-test one during winter. In discussion, the Chief Executive made the point that there might be a case for considering this--subject to extra tests lost during winter being added to the summer programme. This could have the advantage of switching staff resources to be more in line with the seasonal pattern of test demand.