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British Railways Board

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has set the British Railways Board an external finance limit consistent with his latest estimate of its outturn for 1996-97. [19413]

Mr. Watts: I have today set the British Railways Board an external finance limit of £10 million for 1996-97. This limit is consistent with the estimate of 1996-97 outturn provision for the railway industry of £780 million announced by my right hon. Friend in his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Shaw) of 26 November 1996, Official Report, column 160.

Lorry Weights

Mr. Nigel Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has reached a decision on maximum lorry weights following the closure of the period for responses to the Government's consultation document on lorry weights. [19539]

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Mr. Watts: We have received some 250 responses to the document; these are being considered very carefully and the issues involved will be analysed extensively. Until that work is complete, there can be no decision on altering the present general maximum lorry weight, but the separate proposal put forward in the consultation document to allow lorries engaged in piggyback road-rail operations to operate at up to 44 tonnes, if they have six axles and road-friendly suspension, has been generally welcomed as a measure to get more long-distance freight onto rail. I have therefore asked officials to proceed with the necessary consultation on draft regulations to put this into effect. Subject to the outcome of that consultation, I expect the regulations to be laid shortly. This decision is independent of the outcome of the Government's consideration of the general maximum lorry weight.

Light Dues

Mr. Congdon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on light dues. [19540]

Sir George Young: I am pleased to announce that light dues for 1997-98 will be reduced by about 4.6 per cent. from 43p to 41p net ton with consequential reductions to other changes. This reduction, coming after four years of stability, takes rates back to below those established in 1992. It is a clear demonstration of the increasing efficiency of the three general lighthouse authorities.

I am announcing changes to the light dues regulations which are designed to simplify some aspects of collection and will remove the liability to pay light dues in certain cases. I shall be consulting the industries concerned on other possible changes in the distribution of light dues.

Train Track Fences

Mr. Ainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents involving trains have occurred in each of the past five years as a result of people gaining access to the track through damaged fences. [18239]

Mr. Watts [holding answer 4 March 1997]: This information is not available in the form requested. However, appendix 8B of "Railway Safety--HM Chief Inspector of Railways' Annual Report on the safety record of the railways in Great Britain for 1995-96", gives statistics on the number of trespassers killed and injured for the past five years. The figures are included in the table:

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Trespassers150 (7)132 (5)121 (7)119 (6)109 (7)
Suicides150 (1)132 (0)141 (1)135 (0)137 (0)
Total300 (8)264 (5)262 (8)254 (6)246 (7)

1. Figures in brackets denote the number of children under the age of 16 years included in the total.

2. Figures for 1994-95 and 1995-96 have been revised following notification of coroners' verdicts for inquests that have been outstanding at the time the previous statistics had been prepared. Figures for 1995-96 are provisional.

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The report also highlights accidents to trespassers and measures the inspectorate, the industry and the British transport police are adopting to combat these accidents. Copies of the report are available in both Libraries of the House.

The state of fencing is not recorded as a contributory factor on the Health and Safety Executive's accident database. In addition, the state of the fencing is not always mentioned on the written notifications of incidents received by the HSE from railway operators. However, during any HSE investigations of incidents involving trespassers, and in particular incidents involving children, the condition of the fencing will be scrutinised closely and enforcement action taken should HSE consider the fencing to be inadequate.


Equipment and Furniture

Mr. Ian McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the cost and number of items of equipment and furniture that (a) have been stolen and (b) are otherwise unaccounted for from his Department and its agencies during the past 12 months, listing by name any such items valued at £5,000 or more, and showing information technology material separately. [17060]

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the table.

Financial yearNumber of individual items (including information technology)Total value

1. For the purposes of departmental accounting, centralised information is collected for complete financial years and in a single category covering losses arising from theft, fraud, arson, sabotage or other causes.

2. The figures in the table are for the Department and all its agencies.

Nuclear Test Veterans

Mr. Livingstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many former service personnel who participated in the nuclear tests programmes in Australia and the south Pacific have been awarded war pensions after they developed (a) leukaemia, excluding chronic lymphatic or (b) multiple myeloma; when was the first time that former service personnel were awarded war pensions after developing these illnesses; and if he will make a statement. [17952]

Mr. Heald: The information is as follows:

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The first awards were made in 1988 following publication of the National Radiological Protection Board's first report on the subsequent health of nuclear test participants. The report did not causally relate multiple myeloma or leukaemia to participation, but its evidence was regarded as raising a reasonable doubt--the standard of proof required for the award of war pension in such cases--that those conditions excluding chronic lymphatic leukaemia, may have resulted from participation in the tests.

Jobseeker's Allowance

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many jobseeker's allowance cases have gone to appeal; and what percentage of these have been successful. [17855]

Mr. Roger Evans: Some 4,460 jobseeker's allowance appeals have been received by the Independent Tribunal Service and, of those appeals cleared at hearing, 36.5 per cent. have been successful.

Cold Weather Payments

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the locations of the meteorological stations on the basis of whose readings eligibility for cold weather payments are determined for each part of Wales, and if each case its (a) height above sea level and (b) proximity to the coast. [18508]

Mr. Roger Evans: The information is set out in the table:

Weather stationHeight above mean sea level (metres)Proximity to coastline (kilometres)
Aberporth133less than 5
Capel Curig216(8)40
Crosby9less than 5
Great Malvern44(8)60
Mumbles Head32less than 5
Rhoose65less than 5
Rhyl77less than 5
Valley10less than 5

(8) Rounded to the nearest 10 kilometres.

Appeal Tribunals

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the effect the Social Security (Adjudication) and Child Support Amendment (No. 2) Regulations 1996 on the number of oral hearings held by social security appeal tribunals, disability appeal tribunals and child support appeal tribunals; and what information he has collated on the effect they have already had. [18373]

Mr. Roger Evans: An evaluation of the impact of the Social Security (Adjudication) and Child Support Amendment (No. 2) Regulations which came in to force on 21 October 1996 will be carried out over the first year of operation. Information is being collected and we expect to have interim results approximately six months after implementation.

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