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Column 1035decision on the location of a new runway in south-east England.
Mr. Keith Hill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to ensure that the safety and convenience of the travelling public take precedence over the Government's timetable for the successive stages of railway privatisation.
Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has to change his Department's cash limits and running costs limits; and what proposals there are to change the cash limit and running costs limit of the Office of the Rail Regulator for 1994 95.
Dr. Mawhinney: Subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimates, the following changes will be made: (i) the cash limit for class VI, vote 1 (highways agency) will be increased by £44,131,000 from £2,098,528,000 to £2,142,659,000. The increase in the cash limit includes the take up of end year flexibility entitlement as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 14 July 1994 ( Offical Report , columns 729 734 ) and subsequently adjusted; and, adjustments in funding relating to the formation of the Highways Agency between this vote and class VI, vote 2 and class VI, vote 5.
(ii) the cash limit for class VI, vote 2 (administration and transport services) will be increased by £15,620,000 from £235,425, 000 to £251,045,000. The additional provision includes the take up of end year flexibility entitlement as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 14 July 1994 ( Official Report , columns 729 734 ); the transfer of funds from the Department of Trade and Industry (class IV, vote 1) in respect of the London Regional Passengers Committee; the transfer of funds for research and development from class VI, vote 1 and class VI, vote 5; the transfer to class VI, vote 1 of various items of running costs and administrative capital; and, the transfer of provision to class VI, vote 7 to cover professional advisers' fees.
(iii) the cash limit for class VI, vote 5 (local roads and transport) will be increased by £59,669,000 from £532,904,000 to £592,573,000. The increase includes the take up of end year flexibility entitlement as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 14 July 1994 ( Official Report , columns 729 734 ); various transfers of funds between this vote and class VI, vote 1, class VI, vote 2 and from non -voted expenditure; and, the increase of provision for special grants to passenger transport authorities.
(iv) the cash limit for class VI, vote 7 (passenger rail services) will be increased by £63,000,000 by transfers from class VI, vote 2, class VI, vote 3 and from non-voted expenditure from £1,684, 500,000 to £1,747,500,000. The additional provision is required for sums due to British Railways Board in respect
Column 1036of public service obligations and for the costs of professional advisers' fees in connection with the Franchising Director's duties to designate railway passenger services as eligible for provision under franchise agreements.
(v) the cash limit for class VI, vote 8 (office of the rail regulator) will be increased by £1,255,000 from £6,457,000 to £7,712, 000. The increased cash limit includes the take up of end year flexibility entitlement of £1,058,000 as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 14 July 1994 ( Official Report , columns 729 734 ) and a transfer of £197,000 from the Department of Trade and Industry (Class IV, vote 1) for accommodation costs of the rail users committees.
(vi) The Department of Transport Local Authority Capital cash limit has been increased by £6,000,000 from £291,358,000 to £297,358, 000. This reflects the take up of end year flexibility as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 14 July 1994 ( Official Report , columns 729 734 ).
(vii) The Department of Transport running costs limits has been reduced by £382,000 from £418,375,000 to £417,993,000 and the Office of the Rail Regulator running costs limit has been increased by £197, 000 from £5,973,000 to £6,170,000.
The overall increases will be offset by transfers or charged to the reserve and will not, therefore, add to the planned total of public expenditure. In particular, there are a number of adjustments between the voted and non- voted elements of railway expenditure which do not affect the control total.
Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what new proposals he has to ensure that those convicted of acts of violence are not employed by his Department or their contractors as security guards.
They require the security company to demonstrate its ability to select guards in terms of aptitude and temperament for the job, and that security guards be restrained, self disciplined and trained for dealing with peaceful protestors as well as those intent on causing damage.
As for security guards employed by the Department, any checks for criminal records are made in accordance with our stated vetting policy and decisions on whether to employ are taken with due regard to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
Mr. Watts [holding answer 28 October 1994]: British Rail owned some 6,475 hectares of land in Scotland as at 31 March 1994. This figure excludes closed branch lines totalling about 134 miles in length.
Mr. Grocott: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which former hon. Members of this House have been appointed since 1988 by his Department to quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations; and if he will list, in each case, the title of the post, the salary, the duration of the appointment, and the party which each represented as an hon. Member.
Mr. Norris: Detailed information on past and present appointees to non-departmental public bodies--NDPBs formerly known as quasi autonomous non-governmental organisations--is not held in the Department and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, from such limited information as is available on present members of NDPBs, there is no evidence that any of them is a former hon. Member, apart from one member of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, Mr. Lewis Carter-Jones, who was a Labour Member of Parliament. He was reappointed as a member of the committee in December 1992 for a three-year period. Committee members are not paid a salary but the Department meets their travel and subsistence costs.
Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many calls the telephone line for reporting vehicles which are polluting excessively has received; how the line is promoted; at what annual cost; and if he will publish a list of action taken as a result of calls made.
The procedure for reporting vehicles was publicised in a leaflet published in August 1993. This was sent to local authorities, motoring organisations, environmental groups, libraries, citizens' advice bureaux and other interested bodies. I have recently placed copies in the Library in response to a question from the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey). Since February 1994, the reporting procedure has also been explained in one of the small leaflets included with all vehicle excise licence renewal notices. Operators who have been reported are asked to have their vehicle checked and are warned that continued use of an excessively smoky vehicle could be in contravention of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.
Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to receive the report from the chief coastguard south-west on the ferry safety exercise that took place on 4 November 1993 on the Quiberon; and if he will make a statement.
Letter from C. J. Harris to Mr. David Jamieson, dated 1 November 1994 :
The Secretary of the State for Transport has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question as the Question deals with an operational matter, for which I have responsibility as Chief Executive.
An extensive post exercise discussion was held for all the participants shortly after the exercise and a draft report for the Exercise "EDDYSTONE 93" was circulated in September 1994. A final report will be distributed early in November. Exercise reports deal with operational matters and are not usually submitted to Ministers.
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about the decision of the Civil Aviation Authority to withdraw approvals to train air traffic controllers from the South East Kent college of air training.
Mr. Keith Hill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which organisation has responsibility under the new structure of the railway industry for ensuring that passengers are kept fully informed about the causes of the delays resulting from serious operating incidents; what arrangements exist to ensure that train operating companies have access to the necessary information; and what steps his Department has taken to monitor the policy followed by Railtrack and train operating companies concerning the accuracy and completeness of information supplied to passengers in such circumstances.
Mr. Watts: Railtrack is required to inform the relevant train operating companies of any incidents. Train operating companies are responsible for informing passengers about delays resulting from serious operating incidents. They work to citizens charter guidelines as laid down in British Rail's passengers charter.
Mr. Keith Hill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the near collision on the evening of Thursday 20 October involving two passenger trains outside Tunbridge Wells station; what features this incident had in common with the fatal accident at Cowden, Kent on 15 October; how both trains came to be on the same section of track travelling in opposite directions; how close the trains came to colliding and how a collision was averted; what information was given at the time to passengers about the reasons for the resulting delay to services; what
telecommunications equipment was available to the relevant signalman and drivers of the two trains; what steps have been taken to ascertain responsibility for the incident; and whether action has been taken against any individual.
Mr. Watts: I understand from the Health and Safety Executive that because of a points failure the signalman had appointed hand signalmen at each end of the short single line through Strawberry Hill tunnel, to hand- wind the points according to instructions from the signalman. An error then occurred which led to the 18.45 Charing Cross to Hastings train running on to the northbound line
Column 1039which was occupied by the 17.40 Hastings to Charing Cross train, and which was standing at a red signal.
The driver of the southbound train was proceeding with caution as instructed, and was thus able to see the points were wrongly set and bring his train to a standstill, 50 yards from the other train. There were no injuries to passengers or staff, but both drivers were treated for shock.
The circumstances of this incident have nothing in common with the Cowden accident.
I understand that on this line there are telephones on signals which link to signal boxes and these were used as the means of communication between the signalman and the hand-signalmen on site. I understand that information about services was made available through radio, ceefax and announcements at stations.
Railtrack is carrying out an investigation into the cause of the incident and will then decide what further action is necessary.
Mr. Keith Hill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the demands on the time of railway managers imposed by the current reorganisation of the railway industry; and what steps he has taken to satisfy himself that these are consistent with the unimpaired discharge of their responsibility for operating the network and for maintaining safety and that the conditions of employment of employees of British Rail and Railtrack provide facilities for the making public of fears about safety matters.
Mr. Watts: Safety is paramount in all railway operations. I am satisfied that the arrangements in place will ensure that the appropriate levels of safety are maintained. The new safety regulations are being monitored and enforced by the Health and Safety Executive.
Conditions of employment are matters for British Rail and Railtrack.
Mr. Norris: Cyclists are required by law to comply with traffic directions and signals. This requirement is in the interests of cyclists' own safety and that of other road users. The Road Traffic Act 1991 created the offence of dangerous cycling. The maximum fine is now £2,500 for dangerous cycling and £1,000 for careless cycling. Enforcement of the law is a matter for the police.
Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what dates representatives of Blue Circle and Decision Makers Ltd. met the right hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. MacGregor) in his capacity as Secretary of State for Transport to discuss a proposed international passenger station at Ebbsfleet
Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which (a) current and (b) planned transport schemes, and at which locations, the new Austrian tunnelling method may be used (i) currently and (ii) in the future.
(a ) Current transport schemes
Two sections of the Jubilee Line Extension, at Jubilee gardens and London Bridge Station, are currently being constructed using the new austrian tunnelling method, although this work is currently suspended pending further information on the Heathrow collapse.
(b) Planned transport schemes
Plans for the crossrail project include the use of NATM techniques for station tunnels at platform levels at Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon and Liverpool Street stations and at part of Paddington station. One additional section of the JLE using NATM is planned between London Bridge and Waterloo.
representatives of the pet industry and organisations with an interest in the transport of small livestock together with a representative of the parcel-carrying firm which recently announced its intention to stop carrying small consignments of poultry or rabbits.
The trade interests agreed to hold further discussions with the carrier with a view to developing suitable containers for the carriage of these types of animal. These would need to make food and water available during journeys of more than 12 hours duration as required by the Welfare of Animals during Transport Order 1992.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when it is expected that the vessels recently applying for licence to export sheep will be licensed by the Ministry; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Browning: The Department's responsibility is to ensure that the arrangements for transporting farm animals are in accordance with the legal requirements laid down to protect their welfare. We have considered a number of proposals that have been made to transport sheep and calves to the continent by ro-ro ferry from various south and east coast ports. No firm plans have yet been advanced for regular services, but a proposal to ship a single consignment of sheep in a fitted livestock vessel from Grimsby to Calais is likely to proceed, subject to inspection of the vessel and loading of the sheep under official supervision.
Mrs. Browning: The Government have made clear their view that any final decision on the licensing of BST should be based firmly on scientific principles, taking into account the need to avoid international trading problems, to encourage Community-based research industries and to maintain the competitiveness of the Community's agriculture and food industries. It should be for the marketplace to determine whether BST has a role to play and it is inappropriate to introduce new criteria to the licensing process. Other member states are fully aware of our views.
We await the report from the Commission on the experience of BST use in the United States where it has been on sale since 4 February 1994. It will also cover the implications for GATT and other trading relationships of a long- term prohibition. Its conclusions will be taken into account, along with the results of the formal consultation on BST carried out earlier this year, together with the representations which we continue to receive on this subject when we come to decide on the approach that the United Kingdom should take on the proposed extension of the EC moratorium later this year.
Mr. Grocott: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the privatisation which his Department has promoted since 1979, showing in each case, the date of the sale, the proceeds of the sale, and the estimated current value of the company.
Mr. Waldegrave: The status of the former agricultural training board was changed on 29 March 1994 from that of a statutory, controlled non- departmental public body to a non-statutory private sector organisation with charitable status. The new organisation is known as ATB-Landbase Ltd. No proceeds accrued to the Government on privatisation. The company is now managed by a board of trustees. No information is available as to the estimated current value of the company.
The commercial artificial insemination service, formerly carried out by the Cattle Breeding Centre was transferred to the private sector in two parts in 1990. Financial details of those sales were not made public; because of subsequent reorganisation and deregulation in those sectors it is not possible to estimate the current value of those businesses.
Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what research has been carried out by his Department, and what evidence he has on what paralytic shellfish poisoning is caused by naturally occurring algal blooms.
Mr. Jack: Paralytic shellfish poisoning in humans is caused by the consumption of shellfish contaminated by naturally occurring biotoxins. At present, we know that shellfish can become toxic by ingesting potentially toxic algae species. However, the correlation between algal blooms and PSP contamination of shellfish is not yet clear. A bloom in the water may be symptomatic of PSP
Column 1042toxin; but some blooms are not toxic, and toxin may be present where there are no blooms or other recognisable symptoms. We cannot therefore rely upon the presence of blooms as an indicator and carry out a surveillance programme of sampling and testing of PSP toxin. The Government are funding an extensive research programme into the nature and causes of PSP and also into improved methods of detection. The results are published in the scientific literature and elsewhere. In addition, the results of the surveillance programme are published.
Mrs. Bridget Prentice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for what reasons the European Community directive on the marketing of infant formulae was not implemented by the Government in June; and when the statutory-instrument will be made.
Mrs. Browning: Consideration of the many points made during the consultation has delayed the implementation of European Community directives 91/321 and 92/52. It is hoped to make and lay the regulations shortly.
Mr. Jack: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Dorell) to my hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, West (Mr. Jones) on 30 November 1993, Official Report , column 387 .
Mr. Waldegrave: The Intervention Board executive agency is eligible for an increase of £1,012,000 in respect of the end year flexibility arrangements for running costs expenditure, as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 14 July 1994, Official Report , columns 729 34 . At this stage, it is proposed to take up £600,000 of this entitlement to increase the agency's running costs cash limit for class III vote 2 from £32,852,000 to £33,452,000. The increase will be wholly offset by a £600,000 reduction in payments for agents' services, subhead A3, to £16,848,000 and the increase will not therefore result in a change in the cash limit for the vote.
Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimate, the cash limit for class III, vote 5--Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Departmental Research, Advisory Services and Administration--will be increased by £6,392,000 from £311,890,000 to £318,282,000 and the cash limit for class III, vote 4--Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: agricultural, food and fishing services--will be increased by £1,212,000 from £371,418,000 to £372,630,000. The vote 5 supplementary estimate will give effect to the £7,329,000 running costs and £358,000 capital end year entitlement announced by the Chief Secretary to the
Column 1043Treasury on 14 July 1994, Official Report , columns 729 34. The gross running costs limit of the Department will be increased by £6,305,000 from £238,060,000 to £289,365,000. The £7,329,000 end year flexibility take-up has been offset by running costs reductions of £1,024,000. Those reductions comprise transfers of £842,000 vote 4 and £25,000 to the Welsh Office for commissioning work with the Central Science Laboratory on the bee health programme; a £36,000 transfer to the Central Statistical Office conferring responsibility for the compilation of the food and feed component of the producer price index; a £44,000 transfer to the Welsh Office to meet redundancy costs of agricultural advisory staff at the Welsh Office and a £77,000 transfer to vote 4 for commissioning work with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate in respect of food science. The cost of the increase on vote 4 is fully matched by receipts in class III, vote 5 and a transfer from class XII, Vote 3. Within the revised limit, expenditure on support for the fishing industry will be increased by £1,500,000, grants for alternative land uses will be increased by £30,000 and expenditure on agricultural and food services will be increased by £1,212,000. The overall increase will be offset by additional receipts from sales of stocks of £1,530,000. All increases will be offset by increased receipts, transfers or charged to the reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what plans he has to require fox fur farms to be licensed; (2) what proposals he has received from the Farm Animal Welfare Council for the licensing of fox fur farms;
(3) when he last met Respect for Animals; and what proposals it recommends for the licensing of fox fur farms.
Mrs. Browning: Respect for Animals met my predecessor in February this year and provided him with a report prepared by Mr. Robert Golding which reviewed the legislation relating to the keeping of mink and Arctic fox. The Farm Animal Welfare Council last week gave me, as requested, its views on Mr. Golding's report. I am asking officials to distribute the advice to interested organisations so that they can make comments which can be taken into account before we form a view.
Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will make a statement on the terms "treason", "secession", "sedition" and "subversion" against the Central People's Government of China contained in article 23 of the Basic Law covering the administration of Hong Kong after 1997; (2) what assessment he has made of the implications of the word "turmoil" as used in article 18 of the Chinese Government's Basic Law on Hong Kong, which permits
Column 1044Beijing to extend Chinese national laws to Hong Kong in certain circumstances;
(3) what assessment he has made of the impact of article 158 of the Basic Law of the People's Republic of China on the administration of Hong Kong after 1997 on the relationship of Hong Kong courts to the National People's Congress.
Mr. Goodlad: Freedom and the rule of law in Hong Kong after 30 June 1997 are enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, an international treaty registered at the United Nations. The United Kingdom and China are obliged to implement the Joint Declaration in good faith. The Basic Law is a law adopted by the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China. Generally, under article 158 of the Law after 30 June 1997 it will be for the courts of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to interpret the Basic Law, save in certain limited circumstances where interpretation would be for the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from Hong Kong regarding an Access to Information Bill; and what response he has made.
Mr. Goodlad: The hon. Christine Loh, an appointed member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, has prepared a draft Access to Information Bill. The Hong Kong Government have decided that an administrative code of practice is the best way to improve public access to information in Hong Kong. A pilot scheme will test the code early in 1995. The Hong Kong Government expect to implement the code in full by the end of 1996.
Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which provision of the Hong Kong police force ordinance permits the seizure of news footage of demonstrators from television stations; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Goodlad: Section 50(7) of the police force ordinance provides for the seizure of news footage of demonstrations from television stations where there is reasonable cause to suspect that the footage may provide information about a person liable to arrest. A magistrate may empower any police officer by warrant to seize such news footage if he has satisfied himself that the request for the warrant is reasonable.