Mr. George Howarth : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department by what authority Her Majesty's Government can change the status of an official file once it has been opened for inspection at the Public Record Office, subsequently withdraw it and seek its retention.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The Public Records Act 1958, as amended in 1967, makes no provision for any change in the acess status of a public record which has become legally available for public inspection in the Public Record Office under the provisions of that Act.
Mr. Marland : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has received the results of the survey that he commissioned into the extent to which heavy vehicles are diverting through Gloucester to avoid paying tolls to cross the Severn bridge ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Key : I have now received the report and am publishing a summary of the findings today. It shows that although on average some 2,700 more vehicles than might be expected--allowing for traffic growth--travel west through Gloucestershire each day, only 1,500 of these can be positively identified as avoiding the bridge tolls. As the extra traffic is fairly evenly spread over the M50 and the three other main diversion routes and also evenly spread over 24 hours, it amounts to no more than one extra vehicle every seven or eight minutes on each route.
Nevertheless, I shall now be inviting representatives of Gloucester and Gwent county councils to meet me to discuss the findings.
Mr. MacGregor : The Government have now completed their analysis of the case for compulsory fitment of seat belts on minibuses and coaches and are today publishing the report of their review. A copy is being placed in the Library of the House. This demonstrates the strength of the case for compulsory fitment as a standard for all European manufacturers.
I am formally requesting the European Commission to set the shortest possible timetable to require seat belts on all new minibuses and coaches. This reinforces my call for action at the Transport Council in Luxembourg in June.
Column 82I have also decided to seek the Commission's agreement for the United Kingdom Government to act ahead of the European Union to ensure that all minibuses and coaches are fitted with belts when specifically used for the transport of children. We will consult widely on how best to implement such a provision in practice ; once we have the Commission's agreement.
I shall also be amending the Public Service Vehicle (Carrying Capacity) Regulations to ensure that, where belts are fitted, three children can no longer share a double seat.
Meanwhile, we will be encouraging manufacturers and operators to fit belts in response to customer demand. Virtually all new minibuses now coming off the production lines have seat belts fitted. For existing vehicles, the Department of Transport has set standards on the retro-fitting of belts and has urged operators to take action wherever possible, and this they are now doing. There has been support from the insurance industry for the Department's action.
Mr. Key : I am pleased to announce that wide-ranging proposals for restructuring the agency to achieve greater efficiency have been published today by Lawrie Haynes, the chief executive. I have arranged for copies of a leaflet explaining the proposals to be placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Freeman : Since the January announcement of the final route of the rail link, my right hon. Friend and I have received some nine letters from members of the public affected by the surface route through Barking.
Mr. Freeman : My right hon. Friend and I have not received detailed advice on the feasibility or additional cost of routeing the rail link under Barking reach. Union Railways's general view is that such a tunnel would affect the major east Thames corridor development site there, passing beneath or near the Ford plant, the new Barking power station and the A13 extension. It might also require a new route to be devised for the rail link all the way to
Column 83Stratford, affecting many more properties than the current alignment, which closely follows the existing railway corridor.
Ms Hodge : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many trains currently use the track proposed to be used for the channel tunnel rail link through Barking between the hours of (a) 8 am to noon, (b) noon to 4 pm, (c) 4 pm to 8 pm and (d) 8 pm to midnight ; and what he expects the figures will be after the rail link is in operation.
|Passenger|Other |Total --------------------------------------------------------- (a) 8 am to noon |20 |6 |26 (b) noon to 4 pm |17 |4 |21 (c) 4 pm to 8 pm |25 |3 |28 (d) 8 pm to midnight |14 |9 |23
The number of trains likely to be using the railway corridor in the future, including after the rail link opens, will be a commercial matter for the railway operators involved.
Ms Hodge : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many properties there are in the Barking constituency where the boundary of the property is directly adjacent to the rail track boundaries for the proposed channel tunnel rail link.
Mr. Freeman : Union Railways calculates that, on the south side of the route of the rail link as it runs through Barking on the surface, some 185 residential properties would be directly adjacent to the rail link track. On the north side of the route, some 136 residential properties would be directly adjacent to Railtrack track.
Ms Hodge : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the smallest distance between the rear of any domestic house in the Barking constituency and the rail track for the proposed channel tunnel rail link.
Mr. Freeman : Union Railways calculates that, on the south side of the route of the rail link as it runs through Barking on the surface, the shortest distance between the rear of a house and the rail link track would be about 6.5 m. In general the shortest distance is between 7 and 8 m.
On the north side of the route, houses would be closer to Railtrack's track than to that of the rail link. The shortest distance between the rear of a house and the Railtrack track would be 2.5 m--though, again, this is exceptional. In general the shortest distance is about 10 m.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 30 June, Official Report, column 702, if he will list all the driving test centres that were identified by the Driving Standards Agency regional staff against the criteria marked A to D.
Column 84reasons for the percentage of male and female typists receiving box 1 and box 2 markings ; and if he will make a statement on the accuracy of the present reporting system.
Mr. Norris : Male and female typists are awarded appraisal markings by their line managers based on their judgment of their work performance. All reporting officers are required to certify that they have worked through the Department's material on staff reporting which gives detailed guidance on reporting standards.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which edition of the Official Journal of the European Communities contained the advertisement for the Romney House records service market test ; and if it asked contractors to submit bids for call-off contracts.
Mr. Norris : The Department placed a notice in the Official Journal dated 17 September 1993. The notice invited expressions of interest from firms to provide a range of record services. The notice did not set out terms of contract or invite bids. An invitation to tender for a call-off contract is to be issued shortly.
Mr. Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) children and (b) adults have been (i) killed and (ii) seriously or (iii) slightly injured on or near pedestrian crossings in (i) the Metropolitan police area of London and (ii) England and Wales in 1991, 1992 and 1993.
Child and adult casualties, by severity on or near pedestrian crossings in England and Wales: 1991-93 Casualties |On Crossing|<3>Within |<4>Within |Zig-Zag |50 metres ------------------------------------------------------------ 1991 Child<1> Fatal |7 |1 |7 Serious |236 |36 |241 Slight |967 |119 |797 Adult<2> Fatal |118 |19 |86 Serious |758 |129 |669 Slight |2,141 |212 |1,862 1992 Child<1> Fatal |11 |3 |8 Serious |272 |32 |240 Slight |978 |117 |798 Adult<2> Fatal |82 |11 |95 Serious |744 |112 |677 Slight |2,047 |232 |1,814 1993 Child<1> Fatal |7 |1 |6 Serious |217 |31 |197 Slight |902 |109 |734 Adult<2> Fatal |84 |13 |67 Serious |687 |99 |612 Slight |2,003 |206 |1,716 <1>Aged 0-15. <2>Aged 16+. <3>Casualties approaching and exiting crossing within zig-zag lines. <4>Casualties elsewhere within 50 metres of crossing.
Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been paid out by way of charter payments to those travelling on each of the regions' railway networks in each of the last two years.
|1992-93 |1993-94 |£ |£ ------------------------------------------------------ Season ticket discounts InterCity |34,000 |241,000 Network SouthEast |53,000 |2,063,000 Regional Railways |0 |134,000 |------- |------- Total |87,000 |2,438,000 Compensation InterCity |1,387,000|N/a Network SouthEast |283,000 |N/a Regional Railways |175,000 |N/a |------- |------- Total |1,845,000|2,300,000 TOTAL |1,900,000|4,700,000 Note: A breakdown for 1993-94 compensation payments by the three rail businesses is not yet available.
Mr. Norris : The Department is reviewing the effort currently deployed on administrative support for the civil service lifeboat fund appeal in the Department as part of the efficiency gains programme.
Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) bridges and (b) culverts British Rail (i) repaired and (ii) replaced in 1992-93 and 1993-94 ; and how many Railtrack will repair or replace in 1994 -95.
Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much fare income had been lost by British Rail as a result of the signal staff strike on 15 July 1994 ; and how much compensation was owed to British Rail by Railtrack at this date.
Mr. Freeman : British Rail estimates that it loses of the order of £9 million per day in revenue for each one-day strike. Questions of compensation as a result of strike action are a matter for BR and Railtrack.
Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much British Rail invested in (a) rolling stock, (b) track and signalling, maintenance and repair and (c) track and signalling renewal and new-build schemes in 1992-93 and 1993-94.
G £m 1993-94 prices: |1992-93|1993-94 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Rolling stock<1> |402 |295 Track and signalling maintenance and repair<2> |625 |525 Track and signalling renewals and new build schemes |410 |393 <1> Excludes prepayments by European Passenger Services of £124 million in 1992-93 and £144 million in 1993-94. <2> Excludes electrification/other infrastructure investment.
(2) what is Railtrack's provisional external financing limit for 1994-95 ; and what plans he has to change it.
Mr. Freeman : The provisional negative EFLs for 1994-95 for Railtrack and British Rail are, respectively, £280 million and £348 million. They will be kept under review during the course of the year, and adjusted as necessary.
Mr. Freeman : Support for BR's passenger services, including compensation for the costs of public obligations, in 1994-95 is being paid by the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising. Provision of £1, 675 million has been made in class VI vote 7. My right hon. Friend has made no proposals to change it. In addition to this grant payable direct to BR, there is additional provision for metropolitan railway grants to be paid to passenger transport authorities.
(2) what is Railtrack's investment budget for maintaining and improving the railway infrastructure in 1994-95 ; and what proportion of this budget it expects to invest in the course of the year.
Mr. Freeman : BR plans to invest over £250 million in rolling stock in 1994-95 of which around 40 per cent. will be on passenger vehicles that will pass to the rolling stock leasing companies. European Passenger Services Ltd. is planning to invest up to £150 million in rolling stock. Railtrack plans to spend around £500 million on improving and maintaining the railway infrastructure. Investment decisions and priorities within these total figures are a matter for the industries concerned.
Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the average cost to the motorist per mile of running a typical family saloon car in 1979 and in each year since then (i) in cash terms and (ii) at constant 1994 prices.
Motoring running costs-1979-1993 Year |Costs per mile |Costs per mile |(pence, |(pence, 1993 |current prices)|prices) ---------------------------------------------------------------- 1979 |5 |15 1980 |8 |17 1981 |9 |17 1982 |10 |18 1983 |11 |18 1984 |11 |17 1985 |12 |18 1986 |11 |16 1987 |12 |16 1988 |12 |16 1989 |13 |16 1990 |15 |16 1991 |15 |16 1992 |16 |16 1993 |17 |17 Source: National Travel Survey, Transport Statistics Great Britain, Family Expenditure Survey. Notes: 1. Figures relate to running costs only and take no account of depreciation. 2. Running costs based on the average of all non-company cars. 3. Fuel costs in this series rose by 28 per cent. between 1979 and 1980. 4. Costs at current prices are deflated by the Retail Price Index (all items) to obtain costs at 1993 prices. 5. Data for 1993 are provisional.
Column 881993-94 was £277.95 million. This includes staff running costs for executive agencies in the net controlled area and the Vehicle Inspectorate, which is a trading fund.
Mrs. Roche : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with representatives of British Rail Network SouthEast and Railtrack plc concerning the implications for the safety of passengers of having stations unattended by the staff of either company ; which stations are currently unattended while trains are running at any time of the day ; and what plans there are to alter this arrangement in respect of any station.
Mr. Freeman : Station staffing is a matter for the BR train operating units and Railtrack. Information about which stations are unattended whilst trains are running is not readily available. A list of staffed and unstaffed stations in the operational area of Network SouthEast was placed in the Library of the House pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Raynsford) of 14 March 1994, Official Report, column 508.
Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many former employees of the BREL carriage works in York have died of asbestos- related diseases since 1964 ; how many have received compensation from British Rail ; what was the average length of time from the date at which compensation was sought to the date it was paid ; what was the average cash amount of compensation awarded ; and what plans his Department has to improve the speed with which British Rail settles these claims and the level of compensation paid.
Mr. Freeman : The statistical information requested in the question is not readily available. I understand from British Rail that claims are dealt with, and compensation is determined, in accordance with established legal and commercial principles. Claims are processed as quickly as possible but, given that the episodes giving rise to such claims are likely to have occurred some 30 or 40 years before hand, the task of investigating in order to establish the relevant facts is time consuming, for both claimant and employer alike.
Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the achievements of (a) his policies and (b) his Department in helping small businesses over the last 12 months as against the previous 12 months ; if he will publish the performance indicators by which his Department monitors those achievements and the statistical results of such monitoring ; and if he will set out his targets to help small businesses in the next year.
Mr. Norris : The Government recognise the crucial role played by small firms in the United Kingdom economy. The Government help small firms by keeping inflation and interest rates low and by reducing legislation and administrative burdens. They also provide direct assistance where appropriate and are currently establishing a network of business links to provide high-quality business support
Column 89across the country. The Department's aim of a more efficient, safe and environmentally friendly transport system, using the market to offer the widest possible choice of transport users, will assist businesses of all sizes.
My Department is, like others, systematically reviewing the regulations for which it is responsible to ensure that the unnecessary or over-burdensome regulation is cut back. When considering new regulations, we take particular account of the burden and cost those regulations impose on small business. As part of the business link initiative, we are also considering whether the existing channels of communication can be improved between the Department, its executive agencies and the business sector.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what are the implications of the extension of timetabled journey times by British Rail for the operation of the passengers charter ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Freeman : I understand from British Rail that it has periodically found it necessary to adjust timetables to accommodate factors such as engineering works and speed restrictions. Such adjustments are not designed to make it easier for BR to meet its passengers charter standards, which are from time to time made more demanding.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 13 June, Official Report, column 521, what encouragement is being given to car dealers to join the automatic first registration and licensing scheme.
Mr. Key : Trade associations which have co-operated with the Department on the development of the scheme report enthusiasm for it among their members and anticipate a high take-up rate. A number of manufacturers are keen to become involved. Press releases and articles on the initial pilot under way in Bristol will be issued and further publicity will coincide with the extension of the scheme nationwide early next year.
Mr. Key : Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Driving Standards Agency under its chief executive, Dr. John Ford. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given. Letter from G. A. Lobo to Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody, dated 18 July 1994 :
The Secretary of State has asked the Chief Executive to reply to the question you raised about the considerations that led to the closure of part of the Driving Standards Agency public counter service. As Dr. Ford is on annual leave I am replying on his behalf.
Column 90The use of public counters has declined in recent years. Each of the present 8 counters now deals with an average of only 50 applications a week--compared with a total weekly average of more than 33,000 applications. This facility is a very expensive way of receiving test applications, and the introduction of credit card bookings for Large Goods Vehicle and Passenger Carrying Vehicle driving tests from October, to facilitate booking of those tests at short notice, will reduce the use of counter services even further. Public counters at Cambridge and Edinburgh were closed in October 1993 and March 1994 respectively.
The present public counters will be closed next October.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what communications he has received from Railtrack in regard to the derailment of a wagon carrying a nuclear fuel transport flask at Hartlepool nuclear power plant on 6 July ;
(2) what information he has received from Nuclear Electric or British Rail in regard to the derailment of a wagon carrying a nuclear fuel transport flask at Hartlepool nuclear power station on 6 July ; and whether he has instituted an investigation into the incident ;
(3) what information he has received from the nuclear installations inspectorate on Health and Safety Executive regarding the derailment of a wagon carrying a nuclear fuel transport flast at Hartlepool nuclear station sidings on 6 July ; and if he will make it his policy to investigate the incident.
Mr. Freeman : The Department received notification of the incident from Railtrack, Nuclear Electric and the Health and Safety Executive. It was reported that track damage was minor ; there was slight damage to the wagon, but no damage to the empty flasks which were being carried and that there were no radiological safety consequences to workers or members of the public. The Health and Safety Executive nuclear installations inspectorate and railways inspectorate are conducting inquiries as part of their normal response to such incidents.
Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the current position and policy of Union Railways's attitude towards buying residential properties in West Thurrock and Purfleet.
Mr. Freeman : Union Railways will, if requested, purchase homes within the area safeguarded for the new channel tunnel rail link, on the same basis as if they were being acquired under a compulsory purchase order. For homes beyond the safeguarded zone, a separate discretionary purchase scheme operates. This applies in cases of hardship where the property is expected to be seriously affected by, most importantly, operational noise above the proposed threshold for the noise insulation regulations for new railway lines.
Mr. Norris [holding answer 15 July 1994] : A feasibility study, led by London Transport, has been undertaken on the Woolwich rail crossing. It has been agreed that the results justify a fuller appraisal of engineering and economic issues, including financing options. This will be undertaken by Railtrack, London Transport, London Docklands development corporation and British Rail.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Lord President of the Council how many (a) oral and (b) written questions have been tabled during the present Parliament ; and what is his estimated total cost of the replies.