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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 19 December 1994

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Court Costs

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what is the average daily cost of running each level of court.

Mr. John M. Taylor: On the best information currently available, we calculate that the average daily cost of the county courts, including listing but excluding case preparation overheads, is approximately £900,000. An equivalent figure for the Supreme Court is £200,000, and for the Crown court £900,000. These figures are full costs, including costs borne by the Consolidated Fund, divided by the number of working days. A similar cost in the magistrates courts would be £1.2 million.

Social Security Commissioners

Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many cases in each of the last five years have been presented to the social security commissioners on the grounds of breaches of natural justice; and how many have been successful.

Mr. John M. Taylor: The information requested is not available. Appeals are registered at the office of the social security commissioners only on the basis of the nature of the benefit being appealed.

DEFENCE

Aircraft Engines

Mr. Brandreth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he is taking to pursue collaboration on engine technology for future military aircraft.

Mr. Freeman: My Department has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the French Ministry of Defence. This arrangement covers any collaborative aero-engine technology demonstration. Initially, collaboration has been agreed for an advanced small turbine engine, demonstrate technology for future helicopter engines and for an advanced military engine technology programme in support of future combat aircraft engines, and it is hoped that it will eventually include a number of other projects. Through such programmes, we would seek to increase significantly thrust-to-weight ratios while reducing fuel consumption and production, maintenance and life-cycle costs.

Manpower Reductions

Mr. Thurnham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on manpower reductions in the armed forces.


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Mr. Soames: As we announced on 14 July, the "Front Line First" initiative will lead to manpower reductions of some 1,900 for the Royal Navy, 7,500 for the RAF, 2,200 for the Army and 7,100 for the civil service, and that this involves redundancies. As was promulgated on Friday 16 December, the further detailed work that has been done envisages some 1,500 Royal Navy, 7,500 RAF and some 400 Army redundancies in addition to the 80 Army redundancies announced on 17 November; an additional 900 Royal Navy and 1,100 RAF redundancies, resulting from previously announced efficiency measures, are proceeding in the same timescale. Civilian redundancies are not in general pre-determined centrally. We would expect a significant proportion of the civilian job losses announced in "Front Line First" to result in redundancy.

HMS Vanguard

Mr. Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when HMS Vanguard will make her first deterrent patrol; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Rifkind: I am glad to inform my hon. Friend that HMS Vanguard, the first of the United Kingdom's four Trident submarines, is at present at sea on her first patrol. HMS Vanguard's entry into service on time is a major achievement for a project of this scale and complexity, and marks a key point in the progressive replacement of the Polaris force by Trident. The Trident system will ensure that the United Kingdom's strategic deterrent will remain effective well into the next century.

Spearfish Torpedoes

Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the latest position regarding the main production for spearfish torpedoes.

Mr. Freeman: I am pleased to announce that we have today placed a main production contract with GEC-Marconi Naval Systems for the supply and in-service support of Spearfish submarine-launched torpedoes for the Royal Navy.

The Spearfish torpedo is a highly advanced, submarine-launched anti- submarine and anti-ship torpedo and provides the Royal Navy with a capability designed to counter all known and predicted ship and submarine systems. Spearfish, which is already in service, will progressively replace the Tigerfish torpedo in Royal Navy submarines by the turn of the century.

The contract is worth some £630 million and will create some 40 new jobs and help to safeguard many more at the company's underwater weapons division at Waterlooville, Hampshire. As over 80 per cent. of the manufacturing and processing work will be sub-contracted, this order will be very welcome for a wide section of British industry. The Royal Naval armament depot at Beith in Ayrshire will be acting as a major sub- contractor to GEC-Marconi Naval Systems for both the final assembly of the torpedoes and for all in-service support. Consequently, this contract will also help to safeguard a large number of jobs at RNAD Beith.


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TRANSPORT

West Coast Line

11. Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for future investment in the west coast rail line under the private finance initiative.

Mr. Watts: The then Secretary of State announced in December 1993 that the west coast main line would be modernised using private finance. These plans still stand.

Chelsea to Hackney Line

12. Mr. Carrington: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in the plans for the Chelsea to Hackney underground line.

Mr. Norris: I understand that London Underground Ltd. has been reviewing the route and is currently considering the results.

London Underground

13. Mr. John Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received about investment in London Underground.

Dr. Mawhinney: We receive a large number of representations about a variety of issues relating to investment in London Underground.

Northern Line

14. Dr. Goodson-Wickes: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on progress on the private finance initiative in relation to Northern line trains.

Mr. Norris: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport was delighted to announce the go-ahead for this deal on Thursday 8 December.

A5

15. Mr. Tredinnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he last drove or was driven along part or all of the A5, Watling street; what congestion was apparent then; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Watts: Since becoming Minister for Railways and Roads, I have not travelled on the A5, Watling street. However, I am aware of peak-time congestion on the A5 between the M69 and A47 near Hinkley at the south of my hon. Friend's constituency.

European Transport Networks

16. Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he plans to meet his European Union counterparts to discuss European transport networks.

Dr. Mawhinney: The next discussion of transport networks is planned for the Transport Council meeting on 14 March next year.

Road Building Schemes

19. Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is his policy on funding road building schemes in the light of the Budget; and if he will make a statement.


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Mr. Watts: The Government remain firmly committed to substantial investment in the national roads programme and to making the most effective use of the existing trunk road network.

Decision Makers

20. Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport to what extent lobbying by Decision Makers influenced departmental decisions on Ebbsfleet.

Dr. Mawhinney: Decision Makers had no influence on the Government's decision that three would be an international and domestic intermediate station on the channel tunnel rail link at Ebbsfleet, which I announced on 31 August. As I told the House on 21 November, the assessment of each of the intermediate station option was based on studies undertaken by Union Railways and its consultants. It was carried out on an entirely even-handed basis. No unfair advantage was given to the Ebbsfleet Promoters.

Channel Tunnel

21. Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received regarding the channel tunnel rail link.

Mr. John Watts: I have received representations from a wide range of interests and on a wide range of subjects.

Railtrack

22. Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what legislation will govern the disposal by Railtrack of railway property; and what compensation will be available to those damaged by Railtrack decisions.

Dr. Mawhinney: The railway property transferred to Railtrack when it was established in April 1994 was limited to that necessary to run the network. The Railways Act 1993 contains provisions governing the closure of passenger networks and stations. The question of compensation for those affected by decisions taken by Railtrack is a matter for the parties concerned.

Bus Competition

23. Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what analysis his Department has made of the competition in bus services following the Transport Act 1985.

Mr. Norris: The effects of competition in bus services has been fully monitored through a programme of research undertaken by the Transport Research Laboratory, which has published a number of reports on the situation nationally and locally.

Sliding-door Trains

24. Dr. Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the 317 sliding-door trains will now be brought into service on the London, Tilbury and Southend line.

Mr. Watts: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 25 November Official Report, column 381.


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Traffic Casualties

25. Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what new proposals he has to reduce traffic casualties.

Mr. Norris: A series of publicity campaigns aimed particularly at reducing speed in urban areas and reducing the amount of drinking and driving, the provision of grant--£50 million this year--in support of local safety schemes, approval of 20 mph zones, over 130 of which are now in operation, negotiation of improved vehicle standards and measures to facilitate the enforcement of road traffic law. To reduce accidents involving newly qualified drivers, we are developing road safety education material for the 16-plus age group in schools and colleges, a scheme for post-test driver

training--pass-plus--to be launched in early 1995, linked to lower insurance premiums, an enlarged theory element to be included in the driving test from 1996 and a scheme requiring newly qualified drivers to retake the driving test if they commit serious traffic offences.

Accident-damaged Vehicles

26. Mrs. Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will consider statutory controls over rebuilt accident-damaged vehicles.

Mr. Norris: I am looking at the whole matter of rebuilt accident- damaged vehicles. However, I would not wish to bring in new legislation unless it could be entirely justified on its merits.

A2

28. Mr. Jacques Arnold: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on his plans for the A2 highway and its upgrading in the context of the channel tunnel rail link project.

Mr. Watts: It is too early to be able to report on plans for the A2. We shall need to consider the effects of all the development in the area, including that related to channel tunnel rail link before deciding on appropriate improvements to the A2.

Public Transport (London)

29. Mr. Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to improve public transport in London.

Mr. Norris: The Government's plans provide for continuing and substantial levels of public funding to support investment in maintaining and improving public transport in London. We also look forward to a growing contribution from the private sector in financing and operating services.

Rail Privatisation

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he last had a meeting with the chairman of the British Railways Board to discuss progress on privatisation of Railtrack and rail services.

Dr. Mawhinney: I have regular meetings with the chairmen of the British Railways Board and of Railtrack to discuss a variety of railway privatisation issues.


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Vehicle Inspectors

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has for increasing the number of vehicle inspectors to improve lorry safety.

Mr. Norris: None. However, the inspectorate is to continue to increase its enforcement effectiveness through better targeting and improved productivity and management of its enforcement resources.

National Roads Programme

Mrs. Currie: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the national roads programme for 1995 96; whether the A5164 Stoke to Derby link and the Derby southern bypass are included; and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Mawhinney: I have made it clear that the trunk road network is broadly complete. Our priority now must be to make the most effective use of the existing network--especially motorways--and to build to remove congestion and pollution blackspots.

I have instructed the Highways Agency to remove three major motorway bottlenecks. They cause congestion and pollution and damage the economic well-being of the country. They also cause frustration and diversion on to smaller, more unsuitable roads.

The schemes are:

phase one of the widening of the M1 between junctions 21 and 21A, at a cost of about £15 million, which is required to avoid congestion when the Leicester western bypass opens in 1995;

widening the M25 between junctions 8 and 10 from Reigate to the junction with the A3 at Wisley, at a cost of about £75 million. This adds a fourth lane in each direction within the existing boundary. Adjoining sections are currently being widened or already have been; building the M1- M621 link road, to the south of Leeds, at a cost of about £12 million. This will remove severe congestion at the junction of two important motorways.

I have also instructed the Highways Agency to proceed with four important schemes in London.

In line with the priority to improve the orbital network in London, two schemes are to be taken forward on the north circular road: A406 Silver street to Fore street improvement, costing about £34 million and A406/A1/A598 Regents' park costing about £50 million. The other two schemes will improve the western approach to the capital, relieving congestion and improving blackspots: the A40 Gypsy corner at a cost of about £26 million and the A40 western circus junction improvement at a cost of about £27 million.

In addition, I will be funding a further 12 new contracts, including the A564 Derby southern bypass, at a cost of about £475 million.

By redirecting resources, I shall no longer be proceeding immediately with a further six publicly funded schemes where work was scheduled to begin in 1994 95. We will consider taking four of them forward by design, build finance and operate contracts.

The private sector is playing an ever increasing role in delivering transport infrastructure. The Department is already in the process of preparing tenders for the first four major road building projects to be designed, built, financed and operated by the private sector. There is huge interest from the City and industry in this private-public sector partnership and we can expect many more schemes with an increased role for the private sector


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over the next few years. Work on the other schemes scheduled to start in 1994 95 will wait until there is space in the programme. For one other scheme--the A34 Newbury bypass--I have concluded that work should be delayed while further consideration is given to the proposed route. I reached this view after a private visit to Newbury to examine the existing A34 and the proposed bypass route. I have asked the Highways Agency to look again at the plans for the bypass and to explore other options. Once the agency has reported back to me I will make a further announcement. I would expect to be in a position to do this in about a year's time, when I announce road scheme starts for 1996 97.

These proposals mean that significant progress will be made with the Stoke to Derby link, in addition to the Foston Hatton-Hilton bypass currently under construction; work will start on the Derby southern bypass, and phase two of the Blythe bridge to Queensway improvement; and the Doveridge bypass is a candidate for a DBFO contract.

A full list of the schemes covered by this announcement is available in the Library of the House.

Rail Accident Inquiries

Mr. Wolfson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the lengthy time lag between the date of serious rail accidents and the publication of the findings of any inquiry into them; and if he will speed up that process.

Mr. Watts: Her Majesty's chief inspecting officer of railways is committed to speeding up the publication of inquiry reports, while maintaining standards of investigation and analysis.

Inspectors immediately pass any emerging conclusions and recommendations to the operator concerned so as to avoid any recurrence of the accident.

Traffic Control and Parking

Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to monitor the effectiveness of local councils over traffic control and parking; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norris: Counties, metropolitan districts and London boroughs, as local traffic authorities, are primarily responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of traffic control and parking on all local roads in their areas. My right hon. Friend already monitors the effectiveness of the legal framework within which the local traffic authorities must work.

College Road, Dulwich

Mr. Dowd: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what study his Department has made of the effect on local road traffic patterns of the decision by the governors of the Dulwich College estate to re-open the toll gate on College road, Dulwich; how many road accidents there have been in the locality since the re-opening of the toll gate compared with those in a period of equal length before the re-opening; what action he is taking; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norris: College road is a private road and no central record of local road traffic patterns is kept to measure the effect of the toll gate reopening. Similarly no


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central record of road accidents in the immediate vicinity is kept but total casualty figures for the London boroughs of Lewisham and Southward show a declining trend in recent years.

Railways (Funding)

Mr. Alex Carlile: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to ensure that funding is made available for station information equipment on the intermediate railway stations between Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Watts: This is a matter for British Rail.

Freight

Ms Quin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the implementation of his Department's policy of transferring freight from road and rail since its introduction.

Dr. Mawhinney: Rail must improve its performance if it is to attract and retain freight customers. The key to this is liberalisation and privatisation. We have already opened up the rail network to competition. Privatisation of British Rail's freight businesses will follow as soon as possible. Rail freight is being further encouraged by a considerably enhanced grants regime and a 44 tonnes weight concession for lorries engaged in combined road and rail transport.

Cycle Tracks

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the total mileage of cycle tracks in each London borough and each English county.

Mr. Norris: No central record is kept of cycle track length.

Marchioness

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what funds he has allocated to meet the costs of legal representation for (a) the QC acting on behalf of the Marine Safety Agency and (b) his own Department at the inquest into the deaths following the Marchioness disaster scheduled for March 1995.

Mr. Norris: None. Officials from the marine accident investigation branch and the Marine Safety Agency will attend the inquest if requested to do so by the coroner. They will be legally represented if asked to attend and if necessary, but proceedings in coroners courts are usually informal and are concerned with the facts surrounding a death rather than issues such as civil or criminal liability. Legal representation is therefore generally unnecessary.

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what basis he would be prepared to open a public inquiry into the Marchioness disaster; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norris: We do not consider that it would be appropriate or necessary to open a public inquiry into the loss of the Marchioness. The marine accident investigation branch has carried out a full and thorough investigation into the disaster and its report has been published.


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Ports Office

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what will be the change in the number of administrative and civil service posts with the proposed privatisation of the Ports Office for Scotland in (a) Scotland and (b) London.

Mr. Norris: My Department has no proposals to privatise the Ports Office for Scotland.

Cyclists (Fatal Accidents)

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many female cyclists were killed in road accidents aged (a) five years, (b) six years, (c) seven years, (d) eight years, (e) nine years, (f) 10 years, (g) 11 years, (h) 12 years, (i) 13 years, (j) 14 years, (k) 15 years and (l) 16 years in (i) 1991, (ii) 1992 and (iii) 1993;

(2) what were the total number of cyclists killed in road accidents between the dates 26 to 31 December, inclusive, in 1991, 1992 and 1993.

Mr. Norris: The information requested is shown in the table.


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Cyclist fatalities by age and year between the  

26th and 31st December: 1991-1993               

            |5-16       |All ages<1>            

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

1991        |0          |0                      

1992        |0          |2                      

1993        |0          |0                      

<1> Includes fatalities where the age was       

unknown.                                        

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will (1) list the total number of male cyclists that were killed in road accidents aged (a) five years, (b) six years, (c) seven years, (d) eight years, (e) nine years, (f) 10 years, (g) 11 years, (h) 12 years, (i) 13 years, (j) 14 years, (k) 15 years and (l) 16 years in (i) 1991, (ii) 1992 and (iii) 1993; (2) how many female cyclists were killed in road accidents aged (a) five years, (b) six years, (c) seven years, (d) eight years, (e) nine years, (f) 10 years, (g) 11 years, (h) 12 years, (i) 13 years, (j) 14 years, (k) 15 years and (l) 16 years in (i) 1991, (ii) 1992 and (iii) 1993;

(3) what was the total number of cyclists that were killed in road accidents in (a) 1991, (b) 1992 and (c) 1993.

Mr. Norris: The information requested is shown in the table.


Cyclist fatalities by age, sex and year: 1991-1993                                                                                                                                                          

                        |5 years    |6 years    |7 years    |8 years    |9 years    |10 years   |11 years   |12 years   |13 years   |14 years   |15 years   |16 years   |5-16       |All ages<1>            

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

1991        |Male       |0          |1          |3          |4          |2          |4          |7          |4          |7          |3          |4          |7          |46         |202                    

            |Female     |1          |0          |0          |3          |1          |1          |0          |1          |1          |2          |0          |1          |11         |40                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                            

            |Total      |1          |1          |3          |7          |3          |5          |7          |5          |8          |5          |4          |8          |57         |242                    

                                                                                                                                                                                                            

1992        |Male       |0          |1          |2          |3          |2          |4          |5          |9          |4          |5          |10         |5          |50         |183                    

            |Female     |0          |0          |0          |0          |0          |0          |0          |1          |0          |0          |0          |0          |1          |21                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                            

            |Total      |0          |1          |2          |3          |2          |4          |5          |10         |4          |5          |10         |5          |51         |204                    

                                                                                                                                                                                                            

1993        |Male       |1          |2          |1          |1          |3          |1          |3          |3          |4          |4          |3          |4          |30         |144                    

            |Female     |0          |0          |0          |2          |1          |1          |0          |2          |3          |0          |1          |1          |11         |42                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                            

            |Total      |1          |2          |1          |3          |4          |2          |3          |5          |7          |4          |4          |5          |41         |186                    

<1> Includes fatalities where the age was unknown.                                                                                                                                                          

Vehicle Accidents

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the number of accidents involving (a) heavy goods vehicles, (b) public service vehicles and (c) minibuses for the West Midlands police force area for each of the last five years.

Mr. Norris: The information requested is shown in the table.


Number of personal injury road accidents involving, HGV's,PSV's       

or minibus/motor caravans in the West Midlands Police Force           

area: 1989-1993                                                       

<1>Accidents                                                          

Year          |Minibus/motor|PSV          |HGV                        

              |caravan                                                

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

1989          |58           |425          |495                        

1990          |51           |437          |479                        

1991          |59           |424          |407                        

1992          |55           |399          |421                        

1993          |60           |375          |414                        

<1> There may be double counting of accidents where two or more of    

the above vehicles are involved in the same accident.                 


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