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Institute of Advanced Motorists

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to (a) publicise and (b) promote the Institute of Advanced Motorists. [21222]

Mr. Norris: I welcome the valuable contribution that organisations such as the Institute of Advanced Motorists make to improving road safety by raising awareness of driving standards. I would encourage all drivers to consider taking additional training throughout their driving careers.

Oil Spills

Mrs. Ray Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what steps he has taken to ensure that adequate compensation is paid to all those who can prove loss of property or financial loss as a result of oil spills at sea; [21234]

Mr. Norris: The 1969 international convention on civil liability for oil pollution damage and the 1971 international convention on the establishment of an international fund for compensation for oil pollution damage, implemented in the United Kingdom by the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, provide for compensation for pollution damage caused by spills from vessels carrying oil in bulk. The criteria for admissibility of these claims is described in the claims manual produced by the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund. Copies of the claims manual have been placed in the Library of the House.

19 Mar 1996 : Column: 104

Eyesight Regulations

Sir Harold Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to ensure that drivers of vehicles entering the United Kingdom comply with United Kingdom eyesight regulations for driving. [21658]

Mr. Norris: Visitors to the United Kingdom are entitled by international convention to drive for up to one year on licences issued by their national authorities. For drivers from within the EU, minimum standards of medical fitness for driving, including eyesight requirements, are set in the first and second directives on driving licences, and implemented in national legislation. If it were to become clear that the eyesight standards of any visiting drivers were unacceptable in terms of road safety, we would take the matter up, in the first instance, with the relevant national authority.

Birmingham Northern Relief Road

Ms Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the cost to date of the public inquiry into the Birmingham northern relief road; what is the estimated total cost of the inquiry; and what is the estimated total cost of the Birmingham northern relief road scheme.[20776]

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

Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Ms Clare Short, dated 19 March 1996:


Road Schemes

Ms Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the cost to public funds of the first three tranches of shadow toll road contracts over the period of each contract; and what would have been the cost of building these roads had they been built under the old procedures. [20781]

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

Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Ms Clare Short, dated 19 March 1996:


19 Mar 1996 : Column: 105

Railway Timetabling

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the proposal to invite the train operators to take lead responsibility for compiling the railway timetable. [20902]

Mr. Watts: No such proposal has been received.

North West Regional Railways

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he now expects North West Regional Railways to be franchised. [21000]

Mr. Watts: I refer the hon. Member to my answer on 5 December 1995, Official Report, column 189.

Vessels (Pilots)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which types of vessels are required to have a pilot on board when navigating in United Kingdom coastal waters. [20523]

Mr. Norris: Pilotage is compulsory only in the waters of statutory harbour authorities. Section 7 of the Pilotage Act 1987 provides for such an authority to direct that pilotage shall be compulsory if it considers that, in the interests of safety, it should do so. A pilotage direction may apply to all vessels over 20 m in length or to all ships of specified descriptions, and may relate to part or all of the harbour. Section 8 provides for pilotage exemption certificates to be granted to suitably qualified masters and first mates. There are three harbours where these are not available by virtue of an order under section 8(3)--Aberdeen, Forth and Sullom Voe.

19 Mar 1996 : Column: 106

TREASURY

Taxation

Mr. Hall: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people pay tax at each rate as a percentage of (i) those in work and (ii) the total available for work; and how many of those in work pay no tax on income. [19814]

Mr. Jack: The latest estimate is that 25.8 million individuals will pay income tax in 1996-97. Of these, 6.3 million will be lower rate taxpayers, 17.3 million basic rate taxpayers and 2.2 million higher rate taxpayers.

The summer 1995 labour force survey shows that, in the UK, 28.8 million people are available for working, including 26.3 million who are in employment.

It is inappropriate to calculate the number of taxpayers as a percentage of the working population because the taxpayer population includes individuals who are not in employment but pay tax on pensions and investment income.

Low Pay

Mr. Ian McCartney: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the number of people, by gender and region, who earn less than £58 per week, who are aged (a) 16 to 24 years, (b) 25 to 49 years and (c) 50 to 64 years. [20783]

Mrs. Angela Knight: Information at this level of detail is not readily available. Summary data from the labour force survey (spring 1995) are shown in the table.

19 Mar 1996 : Column: 105

Labour force survey--Spring 1995 (GB)

Age groupAll: 16-24 All: 25-64 Males: 16-64 Females: 16-24
Region of workEmployees earning less than £58 per week (thousands)Percentage of total age groupEmployees earning less than £58 per week (thousands)Percentage of total age groupEmployees earning less than £58 per week (thousands)Percentage of total age groupEmployees earning less than £58 per week (thousands)Percentage of total age group
South East222.320.4368.66.3128.43.6462.516.5
East Anglia----75.611.2(3)--(3)--80.426.8
South West53.722.8157.910.454.26.4157.422.6
West Midlands77.621.3159.09.7(3)--(3)--157.320.7
East Midlands60.722.4103.38.0(3)--(3)--61.210.2
Yorkshire and Humberside61.225.3200.411.851.55.3210.029.5
North West93.124.7155.47.8(3)--(3)--201.021.3
North----109.712.3(3)--(3)--(3)--(3)--
Wales51.129.373.79.4(3)--(3)--(3)--(3)--
Scotland59.315.7123.67.8(3)--(3)--116.914.2

(3) Sample size too small to give reliable estimate.


19 Mar 1996 : Column: 105

Government Bonds

Mr. Renton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the current different of yield between long United Kingdom bonds and long German bonds; and how much interest would be saved annually if these United Kingdom bonds had the same yield as their German equivalent. [21555]

Mrs Angela Knight: On 15 March 1996, the standardised yield differential between 10-year UK and

19 Mar 1996 : Column: 106

German Government bonds was 1.7 per cent. The average differential for the first 11 months of this financial year has been 1.5 per cent. For every £1 billion borrowed, the current yield differential would save £17.3 million per year until the bonds mature. The Government aim to issue around £31.5 billion of bonds including redemptions in 1995-96.


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