Previous Section Index Home Page


Rail Electrification Schemes

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the outstanding rail electrification schemes in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. [1178]

Mr. Watts: Railtrack informs me that there are two outstanding electrification schemes on which implementation works are currently under way. They are Heathrow Express, and North London line electrification.

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what was the total mileage of electrified railtrack in each of the last 20 years; what percentage of the network this represents; and if he will make a statement; [1177]

Mr. Watts: Railtrack informs me that approximately 30 per cent. of the 10,300 route miles in Britain are electrified using overhead and third rail systems. The other information is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Nuclear Fuel Trains

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects Direct Rail Services Ltd. to begin taking over the running of irradiated nuclear fuel trains and whether its licences include the carriage of irradiated fuel which emanates from abroad. [1566]

Mr. Watts: I understand that Direct Rail Services Ltd. intends to begin running services as soon as its train operator's licence is granted. This will be dependent on the necessary pre-conditions being met, which must include a fully approved safety case. The origin of any irradiated fuel carried is not a rail licensing matter.

Motorways

Mr. William O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what responsibilities his Department has in respect of motorway developments and the publication of them to interested parties; and if he will make a statement; [1394]

22 Nov 1995 : Column: 152

Mr. Watts: I have asked the chief executive of the Highways Agency to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Mr. William O'Brien, dated 22 November 1995:


Highways Agency

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what date the former road programme director left the Highways Agency; if the severance terms included lump sum payments; and what subsequent applications under the business appointment rules have been received from him. [1104]

Mr. Watts: I have asked the chief executive of the Highways Agency to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Lawrie Haynes dated 22 November 1995:


Bicycling

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he has taken to encourage bicycling; and if he will make a statement. [1180]

Mr. Norris: Following the Government's statement of policy on cycling last year, we have taken a number of initiatives to encourage cycling. We are currently considering bids made under the cycle challenge competition, designed to bring forward new ideas and partnerships capable of widespread application in the United Kingdom. We have encouraged local highway authorities to give a higher profile to cycling within their transport policies and programme submissions, and we have indicated that we will take special account of package bids which include provision for cycling. We are supporting the development of the national cycle network, which will open up new route opportunities for recreational, tourist and utility cyclists alike. And we are making good progress in generating a national strategy for cycling which I hope will be complete by next summer.

22 Nov 1995 : Column: 153

WALES

Childhood Immunisation

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has to review the rules regarding financial penalties imposed on general practitioners who have not met targets set for immunisation; and if he will make a statement. [547]

Mr. Richards: Childhood immunisation target payments were introduced to provide incentives for general practitioners to encourage and increase patient take-up of childhood vaccinations. The success of the immunisation programme has resulted in the incidence of childhood diseases being at their lowest-ever levels and I have no plans to review the criteria GPs have to meet in order to qualify for target payments.

Public Interest Immunity Certificates

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list all those in his Department who have authority to issue public interest immunity certificates; how many such certificates have been issued in each of the last five years; and what were the main reasons for them. [1429]

Mr. Hague: A claim to public interest immunity relating to departmental documents or information is normally made by the appropriate Minister. There have been no cases in which certificates were used inter partes in proceedings.

Invoices

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what is the amount owed to those businesses whose invoices were not paid in accordance with agreed contractual conditions or within 30 days in each of the last five years; [1118]

Mr. Hague: The information is not available in the form requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how his Department publicises payment practices other than as percentages of invoices paid late. [970]

Mr. Hague: The Welsh Office publicises its payment policy in its annual departmental report, and on all official orders and contracts.

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the average length of time it takes for his Department to pay invoices. [918]

Mr. Hague: The information is not available in the form requested. However, once valid invoices are received by my finance division, they are all paid within seven working days.

22 Nov 1995 : Column: 154

Cardiff Bay Development Corporation

Sir Wyn Roberts: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he expects to announce his final decision, on the sites to be acquired for development as bird compensation/mitigation measures, for the loss of Cardiff bay habitat following completion of barrage construction. [2212]

Mr. Hague: The Cardiff Bay development corporation, acting on the advice of the Countryside Council for Wales, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Land Authority for Wales, has submitted its report on alternative site options to the Goldcliff/Redwick proposals. I expect to announce my final decision on site acquisition and place a copy of the Cardiff Bay development corporation report in the Library of the House shortly, following detailed discussions with the European Commission and the Countryside Council for Wales.

Education

Sir Wyn Roberts: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he is likely to reach conclusions following consultation on "A Bright Future: Getting the Best for Every Pupil at School in Wales". [2213]

Mr. Hague: Comments were invited on how best to raise standards and make a success of the programme set out in "A Bright Future". Earlier today I indicated that the reaction has been heartening. It confirms that the achievements of higher standards in Welsh schools is both possible and necessary. There is a ready acceptance that targets for improvement should be set--school by school, as well as at the national level. I shall be publishing a commentary on all this shortly, to emphasise the significance of the programme and to affirm its contents.

In addition, "A Bright Future" consulted on a proposal that a specific target be set for Wales so that, by 2000, half of all individual 15-year-olds should get an A-C grade in each of GCSE mathematics, science, English or Welsh (first language). I can confirm this target. It will demand a significant uplift in performance annually; but even matching the progress of the last two years, in each of the next five would bring us within striking distance of the goal. It is important to measure the progress against a target expressing ambitions for what ought to be achieved. The target is for Wales as a whole, not for individual schools. I look to schools to set their own targets--where appropriate with the assistance of LEAs and others who can provide local support--to improve their performance year by year.

The independent school inspectorate is also working with schools to set new targets following inspections and it will monitor progress.


Next Section Index Home Page