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Rail Tickets (Inter-availability)

Ms Short: To ask the Secretary of state for Transport what instructions he has given to the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising regarding the inter-availability of tickets between destinations where more than one route is available and services on these routes are provided by different train operating companies. [12844]

Mr. Watts: Paragraphs 29 of the objectives, instructions and guidance to the franchising director instruct the franchising director that:


The franchising director will require inter-available tickets between the different operators on most routes, thereby essentially safeguarding the existing inter-availability of tickets for British Rail services on permitted routes. He will lift the requirement only if this would be in the interests of price competition and service diversity. While inter-availability is required, operators will be permitted to offer additional, non-inter-available tickets which trade flexibility for a cheaper price.

31 Jan 1996 : Column: 807

Heavy Goods Vehicle Drivers

Mr. Hanson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received about the regulation of HGV drivers employed by HGV driver agencies; if he will consult on proposals to regulate HGV driver agencies; and if he will make a statement. [12437]

Mr. Norris: I have received one letter on this issue. Employment agencies for HGV drivers are already regulated. They are subject to the standards of conduct in the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 1976, which are enforced by the employment agency standards office of the Department of Trade and Industry.

West Coast Main Line

Mr. Chris Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if the transmission-based signalling system proposed for the west coast main line will be compatible with the proposed European train control system. [12282]

Mr. Watts: The final form of the European train control system will depend on the outcome of the current development work. However, the transmission-based signalling system proposed for the west coast main line is expected to be compatible with ETCS principles.

Mr. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when it is expected that a proven European train control system will be ready for production; and when the transmission-based signalling system proposed for the west coast main line will be ready for installation. [12281]

Mr. Watts: The availability of a proven European train control system will depend on the outcome of research trials currently being undertaken within the EC's fourth framework programme for research and development. The trials are not due to be completed until around the year 2000. Railtrack will let the development contract for the transmission-based signalling system for the west coast main line during the first quarter of this year. Railtrack expects that a reliable signalling system can be developed within the time necessary for the modernisation works.

Marine Pollution (Penalties)

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance is given to magistrates on the appropriate level of fines under the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution) Regulations 1983. [12154]

Mr. Norris: None.

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many convictions there have been made under the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution) Regulations 1983 in each of the years for which figures are available; and what was the average fine each year. [12153]

Mr. Norris: Precise information on individual fines imposed is not held centrally. Estimates are, however, available from the advisory committee on pollution of the sea.

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he intends to bring into force proposals authorised in the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution) (Law of the Sea Convention) Order 1995. [12191]

31 Jan 1996 : Column: 808

Mr. Norris: Subject to approval of the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution) (Law of the Sea Convention) Order 1995 by the Privy Council, we would hope to bring into force regulations extending jurisdiction over oil pollution before the end of March. Regulations on pollution by garbage and noxious liquid substances should follow shortly afterwards.

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the maximum fine for illegal dumping at sea; and how many times it has been levied since 1983. [12152]

Mr. Norris: There is no maximum fine for convictions secured in the crown court. For convictions in magistrates courts, the maxima are £50,000 for illegal discharges of oil, and £5,000 for other discharge offences. Precise information on individual fines imposed is not available. My noble Friend the Minister for Aviation and Shipping announced on 24 January the Government's intention to seek a five-fold increase in these maxima to £250,000 and £25,000 respectively.

Marine Safety Agency

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what safeguards exist to ensure staff on short-term contracts with the Marine Safety Agency do not have a conflict of interests with their other employment. [12195]

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. Graham Allen, dated 31 January 1996:

The Secretary of State for Transport has asked me to respond to your Question about staff on short term contracts.


Road Taxes

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is his policy on different road taxes for road use in different conditions. [12012]

Mr. Norris: Road tax decisions are primarily matters for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

British Bus

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what reports he has received concerning payments by the chief executive of British Bus to Ray McEnhill, National Express; and if he will make a statement. [12138]

Mr. Norris: I have seen press reports, and have no comment to make.

Trunk Roads, London

Ms Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what allocation has been made for maintenance of the trunk road network within the Greater London area for the financial years (a) 1995-96, (b) 1996-97 and (c) 1997-98; [11244]

31 Jan 1996 : Column: 809

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

Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Ms Glenda Jackson, dated 31 January 1996:


A102M

Ms Gordon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what was the original estimated cost of the current works at Cotton street/Brunswick road/A102M improvements; what is the current estimated cost of the works; what factors underlie the current overrun by the contractors; if the contractors will be subject to penalty clauses; and if these will be implemented; [12231]

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

Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Ms Mildred Gordon, dated 31 January 1996:


31 Jan 1996 : Column: 810


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