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Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the child care or nursery facilities within his Department; and what is the breakdown in their use (a) by grade and (b) gender. 
Mr. Hague: The Department provides a range of subsidised child care facilities to its staff, including nurseries, 646 places; holiday playschemes, 2,560 places; and child care referral services. A breakdown of child care usage by grade and by gender is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, the Department's child care facilities are open to men and women of all grades.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how long it takes the Contributions Agency to respond to requests for records of national insurance payments made; 
(2) what are the performance targets set for the Contributions Agency when clients seek a record of payment contributions. 
Mr. Arbuthnot: The administration of national insurance is the responsibility of Mr. George Bertram, the acting chief executive of the Contributions Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.
Column 781Letter from George Bertram to Mr. Tony Worthington, dated 29 March 1995:
As Acting Chief Executive of the Contributions Agency, I have responsibility for answering questions about operational matters relating to the National Insurance scheme. I have been asked to reply to your questions about requests from customers for information about their National Insurance Contributions records. In view of the nature of the questions I have combined the responses.
There is no specific performance target for the Agency to respond to requests from customers for information about their contributions records. However, one of the targets set by the Secretary of State for the Contributions Agency is to send either a full reply, or an informative response, to 95% of all customer enquiries within 10 working days of receipt. We treat requests for records of National Insurance payments as falling within the scope of this target.
In many cases, eg where contributions are paid by direct debit and the enquiry relates only to contributions paid by that method, we can readily provide the information from the computer sub-system which processes those payments. Similarly where the question is simply how much was paid in specific years we can quickly obtain a copy of an individual's National Insurance account.
Where however customers require a comprehensive statement of their National Insurance position, usually because they are concerned about entitlement to retirement pension, a computer produced statement, detailing yearly contributions paid, is normally issued. The statement also advises customers of any years in which insufficient contributions have been paid towards retirement pension, how much would need to be paid to make good any shortfall, and how much contributions can be paid. In line with the customer enquiry target set for the Agency we respond to those requests within 10 working days and advise the customer that normally it takes about six weeks to provide the required statements. On an exception basis, where an urgent response is required, it is possible to obtain the information from the computer and then process the application clerically. But to do this for all cases would be a costly way of dealing with the large numbers of requests we receive.
I hope you find this reply helpful. If I can be of any further assistance, please let me know.
Mr. Simon Coombs: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will announce the results of his review of tourism signing and proposals for deregulation. 
Mr. Watts: I have been reviewing, in close collaboration with the Department of National Heritage, and the Welsh and Scottish Offices, the policy and regulations dealing with the provision of white and brown tourist traffic signs on local authority roads. We have concluded that there should be much more flexibility in the provision of signs, to help tourists and tourist businesses. In particular we have decided that the definition of tourist establishments eligible for signs should be extended to a wider range of destinations and facilities that attract or are used by visitors, including retail and catering establishments. This will involve an amendment of the existing Traffic Signs Regulations, and we are about to consult further on specific proposals for an amending statutory instrument. Copies of the consultation documents for England including revised draft guidance to local authorities, will be placed in the Library on 3 April.
Mr. Dunn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what advice he has received from the Health and Safety Commission and Railtrack on British Rail's report on automatic train protection; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Mawhinney: Serious railway accidents are relatively rare and there has been a significant improvement in railway safety in recent years. Accidents involving signals passed at danger, overspeeding and buffer stop collisions, which ATP would prevent, are infrequent and account for about 3 per cent. of fatalities and injuries, excluding trespassers and suicides. The trend in the number of serious incidents where signals have been passed at danger has been downward in the last five years. But there is no room for complacency about the need to pursue cost effective measures to reduce the risk of accidents to the lowest reasonably practicable level.
The British Rail report on ATP examined the technical feasibility, costs and benefits of two pilot ATP systems. Copies of the report were placed in the Library of the House last July. The HSC and Railtrack have concluded that the report was thorough and sound. I welcome that conclusion.
On the basis of advice I have received from the HSC, I have concluded that applications of ATP, other automatic devices or measures giving protection against ATP-preventable accidents may be justified on parts of the network. In particular, the HSC has asked the Health and Safety Executive to explore with Railtrack the options for tackling ATP-preventable accidents, and the criteria that might be used for identifying parts of the network where such measures could yield value for money, with a view to receiving a proposed strategy from Railtrack by June 1995. In addition and in the longer term, the HSC has advised me that ATP or automatic train control should be adopted as standard on new high speed lines including the channel tunnel rail link, and that full consideration should be given to installing ATP functions within future major resignalling works, such as modernisation of the west coast main line.
BR and Railtrack have advised me that network-wide fitment of ATP as piloted is not justifiable because the costs far outweigh the benefits. The HSC has endorsed this view and, furthermore, considers that there are alternative safety investments which would be likely to yield greater effectiveness in terms of lives saved, and better value for money. The BR report on ATP has demonstrated the importance of assessing the costs and benefits of all investment aimed at improving safety to ensure that funding goes to schemes which maximise the benefits for rail users. Copies of the HSC's full advice, which I accept in full, have been placed in the Library of the House.
British Rail and Railtrack remain committed to a co-ordinated programme to reduce the risks associated with signals passed at danger, overspeeding and buffer stop collisions. As part of this programme, the feasibility of a drivers' reminder device is being researched which will help prevent drivers stopped at danger signals for inadvertently starting against these signals when the train is ready to move, for example at a station. This is one of the more common type of SPAD leading to serious consequences and such a device could potentially deliver
Column 783up to 25 per cent. of the benefits of network-wide ATP. An early trial of this device is proposed.
A further project is examining enhancement of the present automatic warning system so that the brakes are applied automatically if a train approaches a red signal at excessive speed indicating an impending signal passed at danger or over-speeding incident. A detailed specification is being drawn up.
Risk analysis is also being applied to track layout and signalling design, to ensure that safety factors are taken into account quantitatively in the design of the network. Protective signalling measures have already been introduced at a number of vulnerable locations and examinations of other vulnerable locations is ongoing. Railtrack is giving high priority to the development of appropriate techniques for quantifying the costs and benefits of all these projects and considering their application at individual locations. ATP and other devices are not the only way of preventing or mitigating certain risks. The human factors involved will continue to be addressed through driver selection, training and motivation and supervision programmes. This includes close attention to driver familiarisation when new rolling stock and signalling is introduced, and a rigorous alcohol and drugs policy.
The Chiltern line and Great Western pilot ATP installations will continue in service, and ATP will be extended to the new Heathrow express link in due course. The scope for improvement in the cost/benefit ratio of ATP will continue to be examined through these schemes.
I have asked the HSC for an overall progress report in July.
Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what are the childcare or nursery facilities within his Department; and what is the breakdown in their use (a) by grade and (b) by gender. 
Mr. Norris: Staff in DOT central and its agencies have access to 10 holiday playschemes and three nursery facilities throughout the United Kingdom.
Due to the varying number of places taken up at different times of the year, and the changing client group, it is not possible to supply precise numbers, by grade and gender of all parents/guardians whose children use the playschemes.
The table confirms the gender breakdown of parents/guardians who use the available nursery facilities. Figures are not available in relation to grade.
Nursery |Female |Male ----------------------------------------------- Swansea on site DVLA |49 |9 Bristol Acorns Nursery |2 |3 Hastings CSA Nursery |3 |3
Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action British Rail is taking to stop Computer Associates terminating its software licences before privatisation; what damages and costs are being sought; if a counter-claim has been made against British Rail; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Watts: This is a matter for the British Railways Board.
Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate has been made of the costs incurred by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency as a result of Computer Associates' court action limiting access to software.
Mr. Norris: The cost of migrating from CA to substitute products was borne by EDS, the Department's IT supplier.
Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what obstacles in European law would prevent the introduction in the United Kingdom of a ban on the use and manufacture of bull bars; 
(2) what plans he has to introduce a ban on the use of bull bars on the fronts of road vehicles; 
(3) what is his most recent assessment of the numbers of additional road fatalities and serious injuries that are likely in the next two years as a result of collisions involving cars fitted with front bull bars. 
Mr. Norris: We would expect to be in a position to take powers at a national level to ban the fitment of bull bars as aftermarket accessories. However, certain vehicle models with bull bars fitted as original equipment have received European whole vehicle type approval and no EU member state can prevent the free circulation and use of a vehicle so approved.
The Transport Research Laboratory has estimated that an extra 35 deaths and 350 serious injuries to vulnerable road users could result from collisions with vehicles fitted with bull bars. As I indicated in my reply to the hon. Gentleman on the 31 January 1995, Official Report , column 586 , we have taken steps to identify specific injury accidents involving bull bars to determine the effects of bull bars in practice. It would be premature to propose legislative action until the results of this exercise are analysed, which should be towards the end of this year.
Mr. Spearing: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 27 January, Official Report , column 385 , and his statement in the answer that the costs of relatives at inquests or fatal accident inquiries are not generally a charge on public funds, if he will list the exceptions to this general practice since 1979 and state the criteria or tests applied in making any such determination.
Mr. Norris: It is not usual Government practice to meet the costs of legal representation for relatives of accident victims because inquests are intended to be informal and legal representation is not considered necessary. Any exceptions to this have been judged on individual merits.
The Lockerbie disaster was the only recent instance where Department of Transport funds have been used to meet relatives' legal costs at a transport-related fatal accident inquiry or at an inquest. As regards other Government Department funds, the Lord Chancellor considered that the wholly exceptional circumstances of the Marchioness disaster, particularly the fact that this is
Column 785effectively the second inquest, justified making assistance available in this case in the interests of justice.
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department spent on public relations during the financial year 1993 94; how many contracts with the private sector cost; and if he will list the activities covered by these contracts. 
Mr. Norris: Nothing was spent on such activity.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many tests for vehicle exhaust emissions were conducted in each of the past five years on heavy goods vehicles; 
(2) how many tests for vehicle exhaust emissions were carried out on coaches in each of the past five years; 
(3) how many tests for vehicle exhaust emissions were carried out on buses in each of the past five years. 
Mr. Norris: All heavy goods vehicles, coaches and buses have their emissions checked as part of their annual roadworthiness test. The number of tests has remained fairly constant over the last five years: with 663,757 HGVS and 86,499 buses and coaches being tested on average each year.
In addition, emissions are checked at the roadside as part of the general enforcement checks carried out by the vehicle inspectorate and also at operators' premises as part of maintenance assessments. The number of such checks carried out over the last five years are as follows:
Year |HGVs |Buses/coaches -------------------------------------------------------- 1993-94 |148,365 |37,810 1992-93 |146,952 |33,023 1991-92 |129,850 |28,394 1990-91 |150,853 |27,313 1989-90 |119,867 |26,991
The 1993 94 figures include 10,589 heavy goods vehicles and 5,165 buses and coaches which had special checks on emissions only.
Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what representations he has received in opposition to the proposed privatisation of national air traffic services. 
(2) what discussions he has had with the chief executives of airport authorities and air traffic control officers concerning the proposed privatisation of national air traffic services; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Norris: The then Secretary of State for Transport conducted a public consultation into the proposed privatisation of the national air traffic services between May and July 1994. Comments on the proposal were received, inter alia, from airport authorities and from individual air traffic controllers and their representatives, including the Civil Aviation Authority trade unions. The then Secretary of State for Transport also held a meeting
Column 786with the Civil Aviation Authority trade unions to discuss the proposal.
Of those who responded to the consultation, privatisation in principle was supported by the airlines, airport operators, ATC providers, and aviation consultants. A majority of individual respondents and their representatives argued that NATS should remain in the public sector. The Secretary of State published a response to the consultation on 22 November 1994; copies were placed in the Library of the House.
The Government continue to favour the proposed privatisation in principle, but wish the concerns raised in the consultation to be properly considered before proceeding further. This process is still under way, and the Secretary of State will announce his intentions in due course.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what statutory references to hon. Members have been made in legislation introduced by his Department, or its predecessors, since 1965. 
Mr. Norris: The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he intends to publish health service clinical outcome indicators similar to those published in December 1994 by the Secretary of State for Scotland in respect of individual health boards and hospitals in Northern Ireland. 
Mr. Moss: No. I intend to await the outcome of the Department of Health working group which is looking at clinical indicators before taking a decision on publication of indicators in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Nicholls: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to his answer of 15 March, Official Report, column 614, if he will give the costs of water and sewerage charges incurred in respect of the Department's premises in the mainland of Britain. 
Mr. Moss: The Northern Ireland Office pays water and sewerage charges for two premises in mainland Britain in which they are minor tenants. The charges form a proportion of the annual rental charge which includes the cost of utilities and are not separately identified on the quarterly basis of accounts sent by Property Holdings. It would be possible to provide an answer only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Nicholls: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to his answer of 15 March, Official Report , column 614, if he will give such information regarding the water and sewerage charges paid by his Department as can be supplied without disproportionate cost. 
Mr. Moss: It is not possible to supply any information except at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Maginnis: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to transfer Special Branch and associated covert police agencies from anti-terrorism operations to working against the leading importers/suppliers of illegal drugs. 
Sir John Wheeler: The deployment of Special Branch and associated police covert agencies in anti-terrorist and anti-crime operations is a matter for the Chief Constable. However, as publicly stated recently by the head of the RUC Special Branch, it is currently providing its expertise in combating areas of criminality, including the import and supply of illegal drugs.
Mr. Maginnis: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the fatal accidents which have occurred on (a) the M1 motorway, (b) the M2 motorway and (c) the M5 motorway in each year since 1988; if he will list the type, capacity and age of each vehicle involved; and what was the primary attributive cause of each accident. 
Sir John Wheeler: The fatal accidents which have occurred on the M1, M2 and M5 motorways from 1 January 1988 are as follows:
M1 Motorway Date of accident |Distance |Casualties |from/direction from |killed/serious |junction |injury/slight injury ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 25.05.88 |100m S Stockman's |1/0/0 | Lane 10.07.88 |150m S M12 on-slip |1/1/1 08.02.89 |Junction Stockman's |1/0/0 | I/C 12.10.89 |60m W Coalisland |1/0/0 | I/C 23.05.90 |200m E Ivy Cottage |1/1/0 | Br 04.08.90 |150m S Lurgan I/C |1/1/0 06.10.90 |Junction Sprucefield |1/1/0 | I/C 01.12.90 |80m N Sprucefield |1/0/0 | on-slip 02.05.91 |300m S Donegall |1/0/0 | Road slip road 07.07.91 |500m S Stockman's |1/0/0 | Lane 08.11.91 |100m E Lurgan |2/1/1 | off-slip 11.11.91 |800m N Sprucefield |1/2/0 | T/C 26.01.92 |1500m N Lisburn |1/0/0 | T/C 08.06.92 |800m S Moira I/C |1/0/0 16.09.93 |300m W Tamnamore |1/1/0 | off-slip 05.03.94 |Junction M12 link |1/0/0 | road 03.09.94 |450m E Kesh Bridge |1/0/2 19.09.94 |Junction Finaghy |1/0/0 | Road N |Total accidents 18 | | |Total casualties |19/8/4
The principal causes of the above accidents were attributed as: Driver alcohol or drugs (4)
Excessive speed having regard to the conditions (3)
Inattention or attention diverted (3)
Pedestrian alcohol or drugs (3)
Other driver factor (3)
Other pedestrian factor (2)
The types of vehicle involved in the above accidents were: Car (18)
Goods vehicle 3.5 tonnes or less (1)
Goods vehicle exceeding 3.5 tonnes but less than 7.5 tonnes (1) Goods vehicle 7.5 tonnes or over (1)
M2 Motorway Date of accident |Distance |Casualties |from/direction from |killed/serious |junction |injury/slight injury ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 02.05.89 |Junction Greencastle |2/0/0 | off-slip 14.10.90 |Junction Teesham |1/2/0 | off-slip 10.07.91 |1600m N A57 I/C |1/0/0 02.11.91 |100m S Longlands |2/1/1 | Br Road 25.03.92 |500m N Duncrue |1/1/0 | Street |Total accidents 5 | |Total casualties |7/4/1
The principal causes of the above accidents were attributed as: Driver alcohol or drugs (3)
Other driver factor (2)
The types of vehicle involved in the above accidents were: Car (6)
Large PCV (1)
M5 Motorway --No fatal accidents during this period.
The capacity and age of the vehicles involved in accidents is not available.
Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he has a contingency plan and adequate financial resources to offer crofters and farmers conservation grants to help the conservation of corncrakes should this bird species return to Northern Ireland to attempt to breed. 
Mr. Moss: The Department of the Environment will continue to operate a grant system which has been in operation for the past five years for farmers who have on their land corncrakes with an indication of nesting. Discussions have recently taken place between officials and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds on the detailed operation of this scheme which, despite the co-operation of the farming community, has failed to halt the serious decline of this bird.
Mr. Maginnis: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many RUC officers, by rank, are
Column 789operating, full time, in (a) the anti-drugs unit, (b) the complaints and discipline branch and (c) the anti- racketeering unit. 
Sir John Wheeler: The number of officers in the relevant branches at 23 March 1995 are set out in the following table:
|Establishment|Actual -------------------------------------------------------------------- Drugs Squad Chief Inspector |1 |1 Inspector |1 |1 Sergeant |5 |5 Constable |23 |35 Complaints and Discipline Assistant Chief Constable |1 |1 Chief Superintendent |2 |0 Superintendent |10 |12 Chief Inspector |25 |25 Inspector |10 |10 Sergeant |9 |10 Constable |8 |12 Anti-racketeering Unit Superintendent |1 |1 Chief Inspector |1 |1 Inspector |2 |3 Sergeant |8 |8 Constable |27 |27
Mr. Maginnis: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how often the Police Advisory Board, as constituted under the Police Act (Northern Ireland) 1970, has met in each year since January 1988; and if it is planned to meet in the current year. 
Sir John Wheeler: Meetings of the Police Advisory Board took place in January 1988, July 1993 and November 1993. There are no meetings scheduled for 1995.
Mr. Maginnis: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the evidence of trends in the level of drugs abuse in Northern Ireland during 1993 and 1994; and if he will give details of (a) drugs, by type, seized and their street value and (b) the number of convictions by category. 
Sir John Wheeler: The drug scene in NI is similar to that of the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland with the exception of heroin and cocaine abuse, levels of which are extremely low. The trend in NI is for an increasing availability of ecstasy, LSD and cannabis. There is a strong drug culture among young people.
(a) Drugs seized in Northern Ireland 1993 and 1994 |1993 |1994 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Cannabis |44.5 kilos |81.9 kilos (resin) |419 plants |7.1 kilos (herbal) |66 plants MDMA (Ecstasy) |2,923 tablets |23,853 tablets |168 gms powder LSD |8.022 doses |15,392 doses |92 microdots |900 (fake) Amphetamines |1,728 doses |7.7 kilos powder |2,858 wraps (powder) |242 tablets |200 speedballs Opiates (inc. Heroin) |363 gms |34 gms Cocaine |19 gms |1,092 gms
As the availability of drugs increases, supply outstrips demand and the cost of drugs reduces.
The street values of drugs in NI at present are as follows: Cannabis: £10 per gram
LSD: £3 5 per tab
Ecstasy: £12 15 per tablet
Amphetamines: £10 per gram