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Invoices

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how his Department publicises payment practices other than as percentages of invoices paid late. [968]

Mr. Norris: The transport report sets out the Department's payment policy and records performance against targets, in terms of the percentage of bills paid within the time allowed. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade reports to the House each year the performance of all Departments. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Shaw) on 18 July, Official Report, column 1211-12.

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the average length of time it takes for his Department to pay invoices. [920]

Mr. Norris: No average payment times are calculated. Our objective is to pay 95 per cent. of bills within contractual conditions, or--where no other conditions are stated--within 30 days of receipt of goods or services or presentation of a valid invoice, whichever is the later.

Robin Hood Line

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what compensation he will give to the residents of Nottinghamshire in respect of their contributions to the cost of the Robin Hood line. [1613]

Mr. Norris: The Government have contributed over £6.5 million to stages 1 and 2 of the Robin Hood line; the balance was funded by the European regional development fund and the local authorities concerned. We are discussing with Nottinghamshire county council the case for making a further Government contribution towards the capital cost of the scheme.

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he is planning to privatise the Robin Hood line. [1624]

Mr. Norris: Services on the Robin Hood line have been designated as experimental services and are currently being operated by Central Trains Ltd. under an agreement with Nottinghamshire county council. The operating agreement would pass to a future franchisee. The franchising director aims to offer Central to the private sector during or after 1996. The inclusion of the Robin Hood line services in the passenger service requirement for the franchise will be considered by the franchising director before the expiry of the five-year experimental period.

Fishing Vessels

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when fishing vessels are (a) registered an (b) re-registered what checking procedures occur in respect of (i) actual engine capacity, (ii) convictions for illegal fishing, (iii) unpaid fines and (iv) the financial status and viability of the company owing the vessel; and

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if he will make it his policy to institute such checks and refuse licenses when the results are unsatisfactory. [979]

Mr. Norris: I have asked the chief executive of the Marine Safety Agency to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from R. M. Bradley to Mr. Austin Mitchell, dated 22 November 1995:


Ferries (Evacuation Requirements)

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what instructions he has issued to the companies who own the (a) Pride of Bruges, (b) Pride of Cherbourg, (c) Pride of Hampshire and (d) Pioneer ferries to ensure that they fulfil 100 per cent. dry-shod evacuation arrangements; what time limit he has set the companies to fulfil this commitment; what has been their reply; and if he will make a statement. [57]

Mr. Norris: I have asked the chief executive of the Marine Safety Agency to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from R. M. Bradley to Mr. Martin Redmond, dated 22 November 1995:

The Secretary of State for Transport has asked me to reply to your Question about what instructions have been issued to the companies who own the four ferries named, what time limits have been set and what has been their reply.


Night Flights (Heathrow)

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what penalties exist for those who exceed the night flight maximum into Heathrow; and if he will list the occasions when such penalties have been levied in each of the past five years. [9]

Mr. Norris: The current night restrictions regime, which began in winter 1993-94, includes provision for end of season flexibility. This allows a carry-over of 10 per cent. of the movements limits if there is a surplus and anticipation of up to 10 per cent. of the next season's movements in the event of overrun. Any excess overrun would be penalised in the following season at double the amount of the excess.

Under the previous regime, if the maximum number of movements at Heathrow was exceeded by 50 or fewer movements, the limit for the following season was reduced by the same number; if by more than 50 movements, the limit for the following season was reduced by a total of 50 plus twice the number of movements in excess of 50. Movements underused in a season could be carried forward to the following season, subject to a maximum of 50.

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In two seasons within the last five years, the number of night movements in the relevant period has exceeded the limit but has been within the end of season flexibility arrangements. In the winter 1992-93 season, there were 3,078 movements, of which 3,000 counted against the limit, 43 movements scored against the amount carried forward from the previous season, and the remaining 35 movements were deducted from the movements limit for the summer 1993 season. In winter 1994-95, there were 2,668 movements; the limit was 2,550 but the excess was within the amount carried forward from the previous season.

In all other seasons within the last five years, the number of night movements has been within the limits.

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many aircraft are allowed to fly into Heathrow between 23.30 and 0600. [8]

Mr. Norris: In my announcement of 16 August 1995, I confirmed the night flying restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. These restrictions include a control on the number of aircraft movements permitted by season. The movements limit for the winter season at Heathrow is 2,550, the limit for the summer season is 3,250.

In addition, the movements of aircraft which are exempt from the night restrictions are unrestricted. Exempt aircraft are jet aircraft with a maximum certificated weight not exceeding 11,600 kg and those propeller aircraft which on the basis of their noise data are classified at less than 87 EPNdB.

The arrangements for dispensations in various exceptional circumstances also continue to apply. A copy of the relevant guidelines was placed in the House Library on 6 May 1994.

Aircraft Noise Limits

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list all the occasions on which airport companies have fined those who have infringed noise limits under their charging powers in the last year for which figures are available (a) at Heathrow and (b) at other airports. [7]

Mr. Norris: The Secretary of State may set requirements for limiting noise at airports designated for the purposes of section 78 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982. The only airports so designated are Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The noise limits are 110 PNdB (97 dBA) by day (0701-2300) and 102 PNdB (89 dBA) by night (2301-0700).

From 1 April 1993 at Heathrow and Stansted and from 1 May 1993 at Gatwick, the airport companies have imposed financial penalties for breaches of the night noise limits and are progressively introducing financial penalties for the breaches of the daytime noise limits. Information on breaches of the noise limits and on the fines collected is provided by each of those airport companies to their respective airport consultative committees. I have asked the three airport companies to send the reports for the last 12 months to the hon. Member for Nottingham, North.

At other airports, noise mitigation measures are the responsibility of the airport operator.

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Nuclear Rail Flask Incidents

Ms Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the number of nuclear rail flask incidents declared in each year from 1990 to 1995. [281]

Mr. Norris: This information is not readily available. I will write to the hon. Member.


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