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Bad Debts

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the tax treatment of bad debts on loans made to organisations which are not bankrupt. [35936]

Mr. Jack [pursuant to his reply, 8 July 1996, c.37-38]: I regret that the answer was incomplete. It set out the position applicable to income tax payers, and to companies before the changes made in the Finance Act 1996 for corporate debt. However, the position for loans made by companies was amended as part of the wider reform of the tax rules for corporate debt included in the Finance Act 1996. Relief remains available for bad and doubtful debt. How it is given will depend on whether the taxpayer uses an "authorised accruals basis" or an "authorised mark-to-market basis": the aim so far as possible is to follow the company's accounts prepared for non-tax purposes. Relief where loans have been extended for non-trading purposes will in future be allowed on essentially the same terms as for trading loans. Anti-avoidance rules apply to loans made between connected parties.

TRANSPORT

Coaches (Safety)

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what estimate his Department has made of the number of incorrectly fitted seat belts in coaches; [38551]

Mr. Norris: No estimate has been made.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress his Department is making in relation to the introduction of three-point seat belts in coaches. [38549]

Mr. Norris: My Department successfully sought early implementation dates for seat belts in coaches during negotiations on amending the European directive on seat belts. The directive will require three-point seat belts, or lap belts with energy-absorbing seats, from 1 October 1997 for new vehicle types and 1 October 1999 for all new vehicle registrations.

22 Jul 1996 : Column: 9

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of the safety coach seat designed by the Cranfield impact centre; and what proposals he has to ensure the mandatory introduction of this seat type on new coaches. [38552]

Mr. Norris: The Cranfield project demonstrated the technical feasibility of energy-absorbing seats which could be fitted with a three-point seat belt. It resulted in one technical solution, which may not necessarily be a viable commercial product.

I have no plans to require the mandatory fitment of this type of seat.

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what plans Her Majesty's Government have to introduce the compulsory fitting of seat belts on coaches operating in the United Kingdom; [38644]

Mr. Norris: Earlier this year, agreement was reached on an amendment to an EC directive which will require seat belts to be fitted in all new coaches. To comply with the directive, all new types of coaches from 1 October 1997 will be required to be fitted with three-point belts or lap belts with energy absorbing seats. This will be extended to all new registrations two years later. We intend to implement the requirements of the directive as soon as practicable.

Heavy Goods Vehicle Licences

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if drivers who have passed an HGV test at class 2 or class 3 prior to April 1991 will now be granted category C and E licences without the need to take an additional driving test. [38559]

Mr. Norris: We shall shortly be consulting on a range of issues arising from the second EC driving licence directive, including the treatment of these drivers.

Motorway Traffic

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of (a) all traffic and (b) traffic on motorways and trunk roads is represented by (i) heavy goods vehicle and (ii) public service vehicle journeys of under (1) two miles and (2) five miles in length as shown in chart 1A of the document "Transport--The Way Forward." [38600]

Mr. Norris: The information requested is not available.

Heavy Goods Vehicles (Safety)

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has to introduce the compulsory wearing of seat belts by HGV drivers. [38601]

Mr. Norris: The wearing of seat belts by HGV drivers is already compulsory in goods vehicles which have them fitted.

22 Jul 1996 : Column: 10

Seagoing Skills

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what date his Department received the first draft of the study to assess the shore-based demand for United Kingdom seagoing skills; and if he will give the reasons underlying the interval before publication. [38558]

Mr. Norris: The report "A study of the UK economy's requirements for people with experience of working at sea" was commissioned in February 1995 by the Department of Transport, the Chamber of Shipping and The Marine Society. The full draft of the report was delivered in May 1996. It was published on 18 July 1996.

The intervening period was to allow the Department and the co-sponsoring organisations to digest the report and to make the arrangements for publication.

Heavy Goods Vehicles (Accidents)

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the number of road accidents resulting in (a) fatal, (b) serious, and (c) slight injuries, involving (i) articulated, and (ii) draw bar heavy goods vehicles from (A) 1986 to 1990, and (B) 1991 to 1995. [38779]

Mr. Norris: The information is shown in the table.

Number of accidents(4) involving articulated and draw bar heavy goods vehicles: GB 1986 to 1995

HGV--ArticulatedHGV--Drawbar (5)
19863,880347
19874,170305
19884,564332
19894,829408
19904,578379
19914,273448
19924,180428
19934,246456
19944,174351
19954,077362

(4) May include double counting--in cases where two or more HGVs are involved in the same accident.

(5) HGV towing a single, double or multiple trailer.


Wheelchairs

Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the safety aspects of carrying occupied wheelchairs in moving taxi cabs. [38785]

Mr. Norris: The Department has conducted research on carrying wheelchairs in moving vehicles over a number of years. The results of that work have already been applied to existing designs of purpose-built wheelchair-accessible taxis and will be reflected in the taxi accessibility regulations which we will be introducing under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

In practical terms, many thousands of journeys have been undertaken by wheelchair users in taxis over many years. The Department is not aware of any incident in which the carriage of a wheelchair, appropriately positioned and restrained, has caused any difficulty.

22 Jul 1996 : Column: 11

Heathrow Airport (Approach Road)

Mr. Robert Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans exist to improve the approach road to London from Heathrow along the M4 and beyond; and if he will instigate a competition to (a) design landscaping on embankments, (b) improve central reservations and (c) site sculptural works so as to give a better impression to visitors and the pubic. [38422]

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

Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Mr. Robert Banks, dated 22 July 1996:



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