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Mr. Burt: As an intermediary between two parties in the arrangement of child maintenance, the Child Support Agency has no direct role in the detection of fraud, although if social security benefits are in payment and a potential fraud against the benefits system is alleged, relevant information is passed to the Benefits Agency or the Employment Service.

Although figures are not available for the entire period since the Child Support Agency was set up, in the first six months of 1994 95, the Child Support Agency referred 5,561 cases to the Benefits Agency for investigation. In the same period, the Benefits Agency identified benefit savings on a total of 2,213 cases which had been referred by the Child Support Agency. No referrals have been made to the Employment Service.

Mr. Mills: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how long the Child Support Agency takes to process an assessment from the receipt of the information from all persons involved based on the child support charter.


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Mr. Burt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for Miss A Chant, the chief executive. She will write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Mr. Iain Mills, dated 23 November 1994 :

I am replying to your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the Child Support Agency's clearance times.

The Child Support Agency Charter Standard relating to maintenance assessments is to aim to write with an assessment within 5 working days of receiving all information needed from both parents. Figures published for the period to August 1994 shows performance as 17 per cent. but this reflects the fact that the Agency is clearing older cases.

Income Support

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much will be saved from the social security budget by reducing the entitlement of 18 to 24-year-olds from current levels of unemployment benefit to the under-25s' level of income support at current rates of youth unemployment from April 1996 for each subsequent year.

Mr. Roger Evans: The estimated savings arising from reducing the entitlement to 18 to 24-year-olds from the current levels of unemployment benefit to the under-25s' level of income support based on current levels of youth unemployment are £25 million in 1996 97 and £30 million in 1997 98.

Notes:

1. Savings rounded to the nearest £5 million.

2. 1996 97 savings are in 1996 97 prices. 1997 98 savings are in 1997 98 prices.


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3. Estimates assume that contributory benefit is paid for 6 months in 1996 97 and 1997 98: ie they assume that jobseekers allowance has been introduced in full.

4. Estimates use the May 1994 unemployment benefit statistics and the 1990 91 92 Family Expenditure Surveys.

Savings figures assume transitional protection in 1996 97.

National Insurance

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make it his policy not to levy national insurance contributions on employer-funded meal vouchers and childcare provided outside the workplace.

Mr. Arbuthnot: Employer-funded vouchers for meals and childcare provided outside the workplace are benefits in kind on which national insurance contributions are not chargeable.

Industrial Injury Compensation

Mr. Robert Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to change the current system of industrial injury compensation.

Mr. Hague: We have no such plans at present but under the long-term review of social security expenditure each part of the social security programme is being examined to ensure that the objectives are right for the 1990s and beyond.

Pensioners' Incomes

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, what is the latest information held about pensioners' incomes; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Arbuthnot: The latest information is in the tables. This revises information given to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) on 19 July at columns 201-4 and on 17 October at columns 59-60 .


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Table 1: The average incomes of pensioner units by source, 1974-1992                                                                                                                                                 

a) Pensioner couples                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                         Average income                                                 Growth                                    Average income                                                                     

                                                                                                             from each source as                                                                                     

                         £ per week July                                                Percentage           Percentage           percentage of                                                                      

                         1992 prices                                                                                              total income                                                                       

Income Source           |1974                |1979                |1992                |1974-1979           |1979-1992           |1974                |1979                |1992                                     

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Earnings                |32.10               |26.10               |18.00               |-19                 |-31                 |21                  |16                  |8                                        

Benefit income          |77.80               |87.70               |107.10              |13                  |22                  |50                  |53                  |45                                       

Investment income       |18.40               |17.50               |45.40               |-5                  |160                 |12                  |11                  |19                                       

Occupational pension    |27.00               |32.60               |65.90               |21                  |102                 |17                  |20                  |28                                       

Other income            |0.50                |0.90                |1.40                |86                  |65                  |*                   |1                   |1                                        

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Total gross income      |155.70              |164.80              |237.80              |6                   |44                  |100                 |100                 |100                                      

Deductions              |22.20               |23.80               |31.60               |7                   |33                  |14                  |14                  |13                                       

Total net income<1>     |133.50              |141.00              |206.20              |6                   |46                  |86                  |86                  |87                                       

Total net income AHC<2> |116.60              |122.20              |190.70              |5                   |56                  |N/A                 |N/A                 |N/A                                      

<1> Median net income, at 1992 prices, was £107.60 in 1974, £115.10 in 1979 and £162.90 in 1992.                                                                                                                     

<2> Median net income after housing costs, at 1992 prices was £103.20 in 1974, £97.90 in 1979 and £145.80 in 1992.                                                                                                   


b) Single pensioners                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                         Average income                                                 Growth                                    Average income                                                                     

                                                                                                             from each source as                                                                                     

                         £ per week July                                                Percentage           Percentage           percentage of                                                                      

                         1992 prices                                                                                              total income                                                                       

Income Source           |1974                |1979                |1992                |1974-1979           |1979-1992           |1974                |1979                |1992                                     

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Earnings                |8.10                |5.90                |5.10                |-27                 |-14                 |10                  |7                   |4                                        

Benefit income          |51.80               |58.00               |70.80               |12                  |22                  |64                  |69                  |56                                       

Investment income       |12.00               |9.30                |25.20               |-23                 |172                 |15                  |11                  |20                                       

Occupational pension    |8.70                |10.10               |24.50               |16                  |142                 |11                  |12                  |19                                       

Other income            |0.70                |0.60                |0.70                |-14                 |29                  |1                   |1                   |1                                        

Total gross income      |81.30               |83.90               |126.40              |3                   |51                  |100                 |100                 |100                                      

Deductions              |10.80               |10.30               |17.00               |-5                  |65                  |13                  |12                  |13                                       

Total net income<1>     |70.50               |73.60               |109.40              |4                   |49                  |87                  |88                  |87                                       

Total net income AHC<2> |59.10               |60.70               |93.00               |3                   |53                  |N/A                 |N/A                 |N/A                                      

<1> Median net income, at 1992 prices, was £60.70 in 1974, £66.80 in 1979 and £86.30 in 1992.                                                                                                                        

<2> Median net income after housing costs, at 1992 prices was £48.70 in 1974, £52.10 in 1979 and £62.80 in 1992.                                                                                                     


c) All pensioner                                                                                                                                                                 

units                                                                                                                                                                            

                         Average income                                     Growth                            Average income                                                     

                                                                                             from each source as                                                                 

                         £ per week July                                    Percentage       Percentage       percentage of                                                      

                         1992 prices                                                                          total income                                                       

Income Source           |1974            |1979            |1992            |1974-1979       |1979-1992       |1974            |1979            |1992                             

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Earnings                |16.40           |12.90           |9.90            |-22             |-23             |15              |12              |6                                

Benefit income          |60.80           |68.20           |84.40           |12              |24              |57              |61              |50                               

Investment income       |14.20           |12.10           |32.80           |-15             |171             |13              |11              |20                               

Occupational income     |15.10           |17.90           |40.00           |19              |123             |14              |16              |24                               

Other income            |0.60            |0.70            |1.00            |13              |48              |1               |1               |1                                

                                                                                                                                                                                 

Total gross income      |107.10          |111.80          |168.10          |4               |50              |100             |100             |100                              

Deductions              |14.70           |14.90           |22.40           |1               |50              |14              |13              |13                               

Total net income<1>     |92.40           |96.90           |145.60          |5               |50              |86              |87              |87                               

Total net income AHC<2> |79.00           |81.90           |129.50          |4               |58              |N/A             |N/A             |N/A                              

<1> Median net income, at 1992 prices, was £65.60 in 1974, £68.40 in 1979 and £93.50 in 1992.                                                                                    

<2> Median net income after housing costs, at 1992 prices, was £50.00 in 1974, £53.00 in 1979 and £76.40 in 1992.                                                                

Notes to table 1:                                                                                                                                                                

(1) Components may not sum to totals owing to rounding.                                                                                                                          

(2) `*' denotes a figure of less than 0.5 per cent.                                                                                                                              

(3) All average amounts are means unless otherwise stated.                                                                                                                       

(4) All figures are before housing costs unless otherwise stated.                                                                                                                

(5) Pensioner units are defined as single people over state pension age and couples in which the husband is over state pension age.                                              

(6) `1990-1' denotes estimates from the combined sample for 1990 and 1991. One quarter of the 1991 Family Expenditure Survey sample has been omitted because of problems in the  

collection of information on community charge payments following the delayed issue of bills in April 1991. As a result the sample size in that year is too small to provide      

reliable estimates of pensioner's incomes. For this reason the remaining data for 1991 has been combined with that for 1990.                                                     

(7) `N/A' means Not Applicable.                                                                                                                                                  


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Table 2: Proportion of pensioner units with investment income and the average       

amount for those in receipt                                                         

                                                       Average amount    Percentage 

                                                       for those in                 

                                     Percentage of     receipt (£ per    growth in a

                                     units with        week, 1992                   

                                     investment income prices)           amount sinc

                                    |1974 |1979 |1992 |1974 |1979 |1992 |1992       

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

a) All pensioner units                                                              

Pensioner couples                   |58   |71   |84   |31.70|24.50|54.30|122        

Single pensioners                   |49   |57   |71   |24.40|16.40|35.60|117        

All pensioner units                 |52   |62   |76   |27.20|19.70|43.30|120        

                                                                                    

b) Recently retired pensioner units                                                 

Pensioner couples                   |60   |73   |83   |32.10|26.00|59.80|130        

Single pensioners                   |54   |60   |67   |20.40|15.20|51.20|236        

All pensioner units                 |58   |68   |77   |28.30|22.00|56.80|158        

Notes:                                                                              

(1) Recently retired pensioner units are defined as: single women aged 60-64;       

single men aged 65-69; and couples in which the husband is aged 65-69.              

(2) All average amounts are means.                                                  


Table 3: Proportion of pensioner units with occupational pension and the average    

amount for those in receipt                                                         

                                                       Average amount    Percentage 

                                                       for those in                 

                                     Percentage of     receipt (£ per    growth in a

                                     units with        week, 1992                   

                                     investment income prices)           amount sinc

                                    |1974 |1979 |1992 |1974 |1979 |1992 |1992       

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

a) All pensioner units                                                              

Pensioner couples                   |53   |65   |72   |51.30|52.80|92.00|74         

Single pensioners                   |24   |32   |53   |37.20|35.00|59.90|51         

All pensioner units                 |34   |43   |60   |44.80|44.40|71.70|61         

                                                                                    

b) Recently retired pensioner units                                                 

Pensioner couples                   |63   |68   |73   |56.20|62.10|99.90|61         

Single pensioners                   |24   |37   |53   |46.40|37.70|71.70|90         

All pensioner units                 |43   |55   |65   |54.30|55.30|91.60|66         

Notes:                                                                              

(1) Estimates of the percentage of pensioner units of occupational pension income   

are based upon data from the family expenditure survey and the GAD survey of        

occupational pension schemes. Due to thin use of additional information, it is not  

possible to derive the overall average occupational receipt from the estimates in   

this table.                                                                         

(2) Recently retired pensioner units are defined as: single women aged 60-64;       

single men aged 65-69; and couples in which the husband is aged 65-69.              

(3) All average amounts are means.                                                  

Data Matching

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will update the information given to the hon. Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Bates) on 12 July, Official Report, column 573, in respect of actions taken to establish and investigate inconsistency in information given in relation to claims for different benefits made by the same person.

Mr. Arbuthnot: I have authorised further exercises to extend the comparison of information held on computer files to include housing benefit; council tax benefit; retirement pensions; widow's benefit; invalidity benefit and severe disablement allowance.

Disability Living Allowance

Mr. Rooker: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many persons over the age of 65 years are currently receiving the mobility component of the disability living allowance; and if he will break the figure down by sex and region showing the proportion of the over-65 population in each region receiving the benefit.

Mr. Hague: The information requested is in the tables.


Number of people 65 and 

over receiving the DLA  

mobility                

component by sex        

                        

------------------------

Females |132,800        

Males   |137,200        

                        

Total   |270,000        

Note:                   

The figures are based   

on a quarterly 5 per    

cent. statistical       

extract as at 31 August 

1994 (Source-ASD).      


Number of people aged 65 and over receiving the DLA mobility         

component by region                                                  

                         |Number    |Population|Percentage           

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Northern                 |20,300    |497,500   |4.1                  

Yorkshire and Humberside |29,500    |795,600   |3.7                  

East Midlands            |18,900    |649,300   |2.9                  

East Anglia              |7,400     |366,700   |2.0                  

South East               |48,700    |2,668,300 |1.8                  

South West               |17,700    |903,500   |2.0                  

West Midlands            |26,000    |820,400   |3.2                  

North West               |47,000    |1,001,000 |4.7                  

Wales                    |24,600    |506,000   |4.9                  

Scotland                 |29,600    |777,000   |3.8                  

                                                                     

All                      |270,000   |8,983,300 |3.5                  

Notes:                                                               

1. The Numbers of people over 65 and receiving the mobility          

component are estimates based on a quarterly 5 per cent. sample as   

at 31 August 1994 (source-ASD).                                      

2. Population figures are 1991 based projections for mid 1994 and    

not actual population figures (source OPCS and GAD for Scotland and  

Wales).                                                              

European Economic Area Nationals

Dr. Howells: to ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his Department's policy toward nationals of EEA countries who have been engaged in casual employment in relation to whether they are regarded as being within the provisions of regulation (EEC) No. 1612/68, and whether they are exempt from the habitual residence test for claims for income support.

Mr. Roger Evans: Work has been defined by the European Court of Justice as needing to be "genuine and effective" before the person performing it comes within the scope of regulation (EEC) No. 1612/68. A national of an EEA country who has been engaged in "genuine and effective" work and who claims income support when unemployed is treated as being habitually resident.

Invalidity Benefit and Reduced Earnings Allowance

Dr. Howells: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will give the age and sex distribution of current invalidity benefit claimants in Mid Glamorgan at (a) Porth, (b) Tonypandy, (c) Pontypridd and (d) Aberdare;

(2) if he will give for the Porth, Tonypandy, Aberdare and Pontypridd areas the number of invalidity benefit claimants claiming for an adult dependant but no child dependants and the number of these adult dependants not working;

(3) if he will give the number of invalidity benefit claimants in receipt of state earnings-related pensions and the average amount claimed in the areas of Porth, Tonypandy, Aberdare and Pontypridd;


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(4) if he will give the number of claimants in the Porth, Tonypandy, Aberdare and Pontypridd areas claiming reduced earnings allowance.

Mr. Hague: The information requested is not readily available and could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

EDUCATION

Head Lice

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what response she has made to the open letter sent to her on 4 October by Community Hygiene Concern on the subject of head lice in schools.

Mr. Forth: The Department has replied to Community Hygiene Concern commending its good work in providing information and advice on the problem of head lice. however, the Department for Health is primarily responsible for child hygiene. I understand that that Department is in communication with Community Hygiene Concern over its "bug busting" campaign.

Discretionary Awards

Mr. Bryan Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what consideration he has now given to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation report into discretionary awards provision; and what action he proposes to take in the light of its findings.

Mr. Boswell: The provision of discretionary awards is in the first instance a matter for local authorities.


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However, the Government are concerned by evidence in the Gulbenkian report that potential students' chances of obtaining discretionary award support depend increasingly on where they happen to live. My right hon. Friend and I have had a number of discussions with interested parties and are keeping the situation under review.

Examination Marks

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many students in each of the last three years in England and Wales were dissatisfied with the advanced level grades allocated to them and asked for their papers to be remarked; and in how many cases original marks were (a) upgraded, (b) downgraded and (c) unchanged.

Mr. Boswell: This information is not held centrally.

Teachers

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many teachers have taken early retirement in each of the last six years; and what has been the total cost of the retirement packages, including pension enhancements.

Mr. Robin Squire: The following table shows the number of members of the teachers' superannuation scheme, together with the corresponding average lump sum and annual pension, who retired on the ground of infirmity, redundancy or organisational efficiency in each of the last six years. Employers may enhance the pension of those who retire on the ground of redundancy or organisational efficiency: the cost of this is not recorded centrally.


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                                           Infirmity                                                      Premature                                                                          

                                           retirements                                                    retirement                                                                         

                     |Gender              |Number              |Average             |Average             |Number              |Average             |Average                                  

                                          |retired             |pension<1>          |lump sum<1>         |retired             |pension<2>          |lump sum<2>                              

Financial year ended                                           |£                                                             |£                                                             

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

31 March 1989        |Male                |1,241               |5,704               |17,085              |6,313               |6,213               |18,552                                   

                     |Female              |2,182               |4,667               |13,944              |6,034               |4,618               |13,734                                   

31 March 1990        |Male                |1,653               |6,192               |18,551              |6,241               |6,573               |19,672                                   

                     |Female              |2,539               |5,134               |15,357              |6,051               |4,983               |14,845                                   

31 March 1991        |Male                |1,821               |6,530               |19,735              |5,669               |6,993               |20,938                                   

                     |Female              |3,117               |5,442               |16,298              |5,952               |5,284               |15,767                                   

31 March 1992        |Male                |1,770               |7,292               |21,865              |5,087               |7,671               |22,984                                   

                     |Female              |2,890               |5,978               |17,916              |5,175               |5,712               |17,074                                   

31 March 1993        |Male                |1,960               |8,181               |24,542              |6,364               |8,392               |25,108                                   

                     |Female              |2,937               |6,737               |20,201              |5,843               |6,401               |19,158                                   

31 March 1994        |Male                |2,314               |8,912               |26,738              |6,061               |8,957               |26,820                                   

                     |Female              |3,235               |7,174               |21,518              |6,170               |6,630               |19,861                                   

<1> Including the cost of enhancement.                                                                                                                                                       

<2> Does not include cost of enhancement which is payable by, and at the discretion of, individual employers.                                                                                

Note:                                                                                                                                                                                        

The table includes teachers in the maintained schools sector, further and higher education and certain independent schools.                                                                  

Mr. Hain: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what is the average annual cost of employing a physical education teacher.

Mr. Robin Squire: The Department's estimate of the average annual cost of employing a classroom teacher in England and Wales as at 1 April 1994 is around £23,800. It is not possible to estimate the average annual cost of employing teachers in specific subjects.


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Graduates

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many 1994 graduates are currently unemployed (a) in total and (b) as a percentage of 1994 graduates.

Mr. Boswell: Information on 1994 graduate destinations is not yet available. Provisional figures of graduates from full-time first degree courses at English institutions in academic year 1992 93 show that 13,600--


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or 12 per cent.--were recorded as unemployed approximately six months after graduation.

University Students

Mr. Bryan Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if she will estimate the average annual cost to public funds, including Higher Education Funding Council (England) grants and the payment of college and university fees, but extending maintenance grants and loans, of a student attending (a) the universities of Oxford or Cambridge and tutoring (i) a fee band 1 subject and (ii) a fee band 2 subject and (b) the average for such students at other English universities.

Mr. Boswell: The average annual cost to public funds per student at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge is about £4,900. The cost per student at other English universities ranges from just under £1, 000 for the Open university to about £4,500. Institutions with high levels of part-time participation or which place a greater emphasis on the arts and humanities tend to have lower costs. The average annual cost per student at other English universities is about £2, 800.

The information required to estimate the average annual cost by fee band is not readily available.

NATIONAL HERITAGE

Christmas Expenditure

Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how many official Christmas cards he and his Ministers intend to send in 1994; how much these cards will cost (a) to buy, (b) to post and (c) in staff time to sign, address and place in envelopes; and if he will place in the Members' Library a sample copy of the official Christmas card he intends to send this year.

Mr. Dorrell: I and my hon. Friends have not yet decided how many official Christmas cards we will send this year. The card chosen will cost 20p and will be posted second class. A copy will be placed in the Library at the time the first cards are posted. The information on staff time to sign, address and place cards in envelopes is not available.

Playing Fields

Mr. Pendry: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will place in the Library a copy of the national playing fields register, divided into parliamentary constituencies.

Mr. Sproat: The "Register of Recreational Land" records information by local authority district and not parliamentary constituencies. I will, however, consider the practicalities of presenting the information in this manner and will advise the hon. member as soon as possible.

ITN

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans he has to revise the status of ITN as the only news provider available to the ITV companies following the ITC's decision to postpone the imposition of the 20 per cent. ownership limit.

Mr. Dorrell: None. The nomination of bodies corporate as nominated news providers is entirely a matter


Column 180

for the ITC, in accordance with the powers set out in section 32 of the Broadcasting Act 1990.

Turner Bequest

Mr. Alton: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what are the terms of the Turner bequest of pictures to the nation; how these are now carried out; and if he will agree to meet the editors of the "Turner Journal".

Mr. Dorrell: The terms of the bequest under whichJ. M. T. Turner left his pictures to the nation are both complex and, in part, contradictory. Since opening of the Clore gallery in 1987 at the Tate gallery, London, there has been almost general agreement that the main conditions of the bequest have been met. Some of Turner's works are also displayed separately at the National gallery, London. The display of the bequest is a matter for the trustees of the Tate and National galleries and it would be inappropriate, therefore, for me to meet the editors of the "Turner Journal" to discuss this matter.

Digital Terrestrial Frequencies

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will make a statement on the allocation of digital terrestrial frequencies.

Mr. Dorrell: The Trade and Technology Minister announced on 19 January 1994 that the Government had decided to make available the frequency band 217.5 MHz to 230 MHz for potential terrestrial digital audio broadcasting services in the United Kingdom.

My predecessor announced on 14 July 1994 that it was the Government's intention that spectrum, including channel 35, would be made available for digital terrestrial television.

Television Licence Fees

Mr. Foulkes: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what action he is taking to ensure that residents in the Channel islands pay the television licence fee.

Mr. Dorrell: Under section 180 of the Broadcasting Act 1990, responsibility for the administration of the television licensing system passed to the BBC with effect from 1 April 1991. The day-to-day administration and enforcement of the licensing regulations in the Channel islands is carried out actively by the island post offices under contract to the BBC.

TRANSPORT

Tamar Road Crossing

Mr. Hicks: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what are the terms of reference for the investigation by consulting engineers into the question of a possible second Tamar road crossing; and when he hopes to receive their report.

Mr. Watts: Terms of reference for the studies have not yet been agreed. We are in discussion with the local authorities. I hope that we will be able to invite bids for the working early next year.


Column 181

A38

Mr. Hicks: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will now announce his Department's preferred routes for the A38 trunk road improvements between the Saltash-Trerulefoot and Liskeard-Bodmin sections; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Watts: I am pleased to be able to announce today the preferred routes for improvements of these two sections of the A38 trunk road in south east Cornwall. I have sent to my hon. Friend brochures giving details of the proposals. Brochures are also being sent to all affected and interested parties.

Public Transport, Merseyside

Mr. Parry: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the deregulation of Merseyside public transport;and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norris: The Transport Research laboratory has carried out a number of studies on our behalf into the effects of bus deregulation both nationally and locally including one on Merseyside in 1989. I am kept aware of the current situation in Merseyside through visits and meetings both with the Passenger Transport Authority and the Passenger Transport Executive.

Buses (Standing Passengers)

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what information his Department has on the implications of accidents as a result of standing passengers on buses; and if he will make a statement;

(2) what proposals his Department has for changes in (a) the regulations and (b) bus design in relation to standing passengers; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norris: The information available on the reducing number of standing passengers killed or injured on buses, including those moving either to a seat or to alight from the vehicle, does not indicate that any change to the provisions for ensuring the safe carriage of standing passengers on buses is necessary.

Driving Tests

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has to introduce some form of post-driving test compulsory motorway training with appropriate flexibility taking into account proximity of motorways to the test applicant; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norris: We have no plans to introduce compulsory post-test motorway training. However, in the new year we shall be launching a voluntary scheme for post-test driver training which will include a session on motorway driving. This will be part of the "Pass Plus" scheme, which is one of the measures we are introducing to improve new driver safety, following our consultation paper last year.

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information his Department has on the number of drivers receiving training from a qualified driving instructor before taking their driving test; and what information his Department has as to discount on car insurance on the use of a qualified driving instructor.


Column 182

Mr. Norris: About 98 per cent. of drivers take professional driving instruction prior to taking their driving test. We have no information which indicates that insurance discounts are given as a result of taking qualified driving instruction, but discounts on motor insurance will be available to those who successfully complete our post-test training course, "Pass Plus", to be launched in the new year.

Overtaking

Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Transport what plans the Government have to amend current legislation to prohibit drivers from overtaking vehicles that are loading or discharging school children.

Mr. Norris: None.

Railtrack

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will list the firms with which his Department has consulted, or is currently in consultation with, over the privatisation of Railtrack and the costs from each firm;

(2) what has been the total cost to public funds so far for consultations into the privatisation of Railtrack.

Mr. Watts: In the period up to 31 March 1994, the Department spent about £16.5 million on external consultancy costs on the whole rail privatisation programme. Planned expenditure in 1994 95 is £12 million. It is not possible to disaggregate the costs attributable to advice on Railtrack matters.

Crewe Bridge

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if the Highway Authority has received an application for Nantwich road to be closed due to engineering work on Crewe bridge;

(2) what are his Department's plans to divert traffic in Crewe and Nantwich;

(3) what consultations he has had with local traders in the Crewe bridge area of Nantwich road over the proposals for long-term closure of the main road for engineering work;

(4) what approval the Highway Authority has given for Nantwich road area to be closed for engineering work for a period of longer than three months;

(5) if he will publish the details of any diversion in the Crewe bridge area of Nantwich road;

(6) if he will direct Railtrack to carry out urgent consultations with traders in the Crewe bridge area of Nantwich road over the proposals for long-term closure of the main road for engineering work.

Mr. Watts: The reconstruction of Crewe station railway bridge is presently being undertaken by Railtrack. Crewe and Nantwich borough council, as agents for Cheshire county council who have responsibility for the A534--Nantwich road--which is carried by the bridge, is providing traffic management while the work is carried out and will be issuing details of any diversions in the area. One complete weekend closure is planned for 26 and 27 November to allow the installation of bridge beams and a six-week closure is proposed from 11 March 1995.


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There are no plans for Nantwich road to be closed for a period longer than three months.

My Department has no plans to divert traffic in the area. Consultation with local traders about closures on the A534 is a matter for Railtrack and Cheshire county council and their agents.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a special budget urgently available for temporary car parking in the Crewe bridge area of Nantwich road to Crewe and Nantwich borough council.

Mr. Norris: No. The resources my Department allocates for local transport infrastructure go to local highway authorities and passenger transport executives. Crewe and Nantwich borough council are not eligible.

Railway Construction (Compensation)

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what plans he has to modify the Railways Clauses Consolidation Act 1845 to extend the right for compensation to persons or businesses damaged by bridge engineering works over the railway;

(2) if he will institute a study of the rules of compensation given to businesses in the area of roads which are closed for engineering work with a view to amending the legislation in the Railways Clauses Consolidation Act 1845.


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