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Public Appointments

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many of the individuals appointed by his Department to public positions in the last year were first identified by the public appointments unit. [8545]

Mr. Bowis: One.


Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what were the tax losses made available to Railtrack on privatisation. [8303]

Mr. Watts: A total of £707 million of the British Railways Board's unrelieved trading losses were transferred to Railtrack. In accordance with the provisions of paragraph 15 of schedule 24 to the Finance Act 1994, the transferred losses may be set off only against trading income of railtrack which arose in the period during which it was a public sector railway company.

Bull Bars

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to require the removal of bull bars from existing vehicles. [8104]

Mr. Bowis: No decision has yet been made on this.


Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many smugglers have been apprehended by HM Coastguard in each year since 1990. [7806]

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Mr. Bowis: Control of smuggling is a matter for HM Customs and Excise who are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the advantages of trunking the A56. [8193]

Mr. Watts: I met the hon. Gentleman twice last year to discuss this and other issues; on 27 February in London and on 5 June on a visit to Lancashire and Yorkshire.

The position has not changed since my letter to the hon. Gentleman of 25 April 1995, in which I said that I saw no reason for proceeding with trunking the A56--between Colne and the A59 near Skipton--outside of a more general review of the trunk road network.

The Green Paper, "Transport: the Way Forward" published in April 1996 described our response to local authority proposals on the trunk road network, at paragraph 14.84.

Railway and Underground Accidents (Children)

Mr. Ian McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list by region, railway and underground railway accidents involving children under the age of 17 years, for each year between 1990 and 1996 providing a breakdown by age, nature of injury; and whether or not the accident resulted in a fatality. [7971]

Mr. Watts: Accidents to trespassers and suicides aged under 17 in Great Britain 1990-1995-1996.


Figures for 1991 are for the period 1 January 1991 to 31 March 1991 only.

The remaining information is not available in the form requested and could be provided in that format only at disproportionate cost.

Casualties to trespassers and suicides in 1995-96, analysed by operator and showing the number of children aged under 16, are shown in appendix 8A of "Railway Safety Her Majesty's Chief Inspecting Officer of railways annual report on the safety record of the railways in Great Britain during 1995-96". Copies of this report are in the Library of the House.

Road Signs

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the percentage of the Highways Agency budget devoted to road signing projects in each of the last five years. [8422]

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Mr. Watts: New, enhanced, alternative or replacement signs are provided from within various types of works contract. These contracts can be major national projects, large and small regional improvements, local safety schemes and maintenance works. Each year the agency completes many hundred such contracts and the information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will make a statement on the condition of the road signs for which his Department has responsibility in the county of Cheshire; [8442]

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

Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody, dated 10 December 1996:

Departmental Management Objectives

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish the annual management objectives for each of his Department's divisions. [8327]

Sir George Young: The Department's principal objectives were set out in the foreword to the "Transport Report 1996" [Cm 3206]. Each agency publishes an annual business plan which includes its key targets. Copies of all these documents are in the Library of the House.

The Department's aims and main objectives are currently under review and updated aims and objectives will be published in the 1997 Transport report and departmental plan.

Noise Barriers

Sir John Stanley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 29 November, Official Report, column 417, if highway authorities are

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empowered to fund the construction of noise barriers on existing motorways and trunk roads built (a) before and (b) after 17 October 1969. [8265]

Mr Watts [holding answer 9 December 1996]: Yes. Section 282 of the Highways Act 1980 empowers highway authorities to fund noise barriers on motorways and trunk roads built before and after 17 October 1969. The use of this power is discretionary, and there is no obligation on highway authorities to fund the construction of noise barriers.


Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of his Department's budget was allocated to shipping matters in (a) 1979 and (b) 1996. [7837]

Mr. Bowis [holding answer 9 December 1996]: Shipping matters were the responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry in 1979. Net expenditure in 1996-97 on these services, including the Marine Safety Agency, the Coastguard Agency and their associated administrative costs, forms 2 per cent. of the Department of Transport's overall expenditure control total.


Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what has been the total expenditure in design, legal costs, land acquisition and other preparatory work for the M27, junctions 4 to 11, widening scheme. [8033]

Mr. Watts: A preliminary widening study of M27, junctions 4 to 12, was undertaken by consultants between 1989 and 1991 at a cost of £291,000. No other costs were incurred on the scheme until its recent withdrawal from the programme.


Computerised Cattle Registration

Mr. Patrick Thompson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the introduction in Great Britain of a central computerised system to record cattle movements. [8818]

Mr. Douglas Hogg: The Government commissioned a feasibility study on establishing a computerised cattle traceability system in Great Britain in July 1996. The study has been completed, and its findings considered. My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Wales and I are putting forward proposals for implementation of the system.

The Government consider that improved cattle traceability would have considerable benefit in underpinning consumer confidence in the beef market. All cattle born or imported to Great Britain since 1 July 1996 have had to have a cattle passport. This records details of the animal's identity and its movements. Holding the details of movements on a computer database would improve tracing of animals still further. There are already similar databases in Northern Ireland and in some other European countries.

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Under our proposals, details of the cattle movements would be entered on to the computer database by a new private sector organisation, known as the "British cattle movement service". Farmers and others in the livestock industry would send in details of cattle movements using a simple form and a "freepost" system. Businesses reporting large volumes of movements, such as livestock markets and abattoirs, would be able to use electronic data transfer, instead of a form. Access to the movement information on the database would be permitted, probably on payment of a charge.

The livestock industry will be the main beneficiary of the computerised cattle traceability system, which will be essential to help re-establish confidence in beef and beef products at home and abroad. Thus, the Government are proposing that the running costs of the system should be borne by the industry. Including the costs of postage, these are likely to be some £20 million to £25 million a year. The Government propose to meet the start-up costs of the system, estimated at some £5 million.

I recognise that this project is of great significance to the livestock industry. In order for the computerised system to be effective, it will be essential to have the industry's support. Thus during implementation of the system, the Government will continue the close liaison they have had with the industry during and since the feasibility study commissioned in July. We look forward to a constructive dialogue with the industry on the proposals in our consultation document, a copy of which has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The deadline for responses is 31 January 1997.

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