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Donaldson Report

Mr. Ainger: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he plans to publish Lord Donaldson's report on command and control of major pollution incidents; and if he will make a statement. [62937]

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Ms Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the report by Lord Donaldson relating to the 'Sea Empress' incident will be published. [63044]

Ms Glenda Jackson: We received Lord Donaldson's report on his review of marine salvage and intervention and their command and control on 20 November. Consideration is being given to the publication of the report.

Housing Benefits

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how much housing benefit was paid to council tenants (a) in the UK and (b) of Portsmouth City Council in each of the last three years; and in each case, what proportion of that amount was funded from council rents. [63026]

Mr. Raynsford: The information requested is shown in the following table.

1995-961996-971997-98
UK
HB paid to council tenants (£ million)4,4214,5354,441
Percentage funded through rental surpluses23.725.927.4
Portsmouth
HB paid to council tenants (£ million)25.026.626.5
Percentage funded through rental surpluses16.018.319.3

Housing Development (North-West)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will estimate the percentage and area of brownfield sites in the North West where the cost of reclamation is likely to make the site uneconomic for housing development. [63047]

Mr. Raynsford: The information requested is not currently available. Phase 1 of the National Land Use Database project, which we launched in May 1998, covers vacant and derelict sites and other previously developed land which may be available for redevelopment. Officials are currently working with English Partnerships, local authorities and the Ordnance Survey to collect the information for this first phase. Initial results should be available by the end of March 1999.

Railtrack

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list the levels of capital investment by Railtrack for each year since it was established; what the figures were for comparable capital investment by British Rail in the five years before privatisation; and if he will make a statement. [62600]

Ms Glenda Jackson: Railtrack was established on 1 April 1994 and privatised on 20 May 1996. The table shows annual total rail infrastructure investment between 1989-90 and 1997-98.

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YearAnnual total rail infrastructure investment (£ million cash)
1989-90(1)603
1990-91625
1991-92769
1992-93843
1993-94708
1994-95(2)661
1995-96744
1996-97961
1997-981,250

(1) Investment figures for 1989-90 to 1993-94 cover BR investment on infrastructure, on buildings, and on new routes and new electrification. This approximates, but is not identical to, the types of investment now undertaken by Railtrack.

(2) In addition, investment figures from 1994-95 onwards, based on information provided by Railtrack and as reported in the company's Annual Reports and Accounts, are not directly comparable with figures for rail infrastructure investment in previous years due to changes in accounting definitions and the adoption of a new accounting practice by Railtrack.


Seat Belts and Child Restraints

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what steps he is taking to encourage motorists to use appropriate safety measures for child passengers; [62933]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The Department's leaflet "Seat Belts and Child Restraints" which provides advice on the law, on selecting the right child restraint and on wearing by pregnant women is widely available. Advice is also provided in the 1996 version of the Department of Transport publication "Choosing Safety", published by the Stationery Office. Copies of both documents are in the Library of the House.

In the longer term, a standard method of attaching child restraints to cars will make fitting more straightforward. The UK has taken a leading role in the development of the ISOFIX system, which would provide standard attachment points on both child restraints and cars. We are keen for this system to be adopted as the European norm.

Following the successful campaign last July to encourage rear seat belt wearing we are considering further advertising in 1999. Surveys by the Transport Research Laboratory show an increase in rear seat belt wearing (children and adults) from 67 per cent. in April 1998 to 72 per cent. in October 1998, the highest figure yet reported by these regular surveys.

Great North Eastern Railway

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps he is taking to encourage GNER to increase the speed and regularity of its services. [62983]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The franchise agreement, which governs the provision of services, includes a Passenger Service Requirement (PSR) which specifies a minimum level of service which GNER must plan to provide. The PSR includes maximum acceptable intervals between services and maximum acceptable end-to-end journey

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times. What services operate over and above the PSR is a matter for GNER. Ministers are considering recommendations from the Franchising Director about the future provision of capacity for East Coast Main Line services, and will make a statement about that in due course.

School Playing Fields (Redevelopment)

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what monitoring his Department has carried out regarding redevelopments of school playing fields called in under the statutory consultee process. [62972]

Mr. Raynsford: Planning applications to develop school playing fields which are called in for the Secretary of State's determination are handled in the first instance by the Government Offices for the Regions. Four applications have been called in since June 1997.

Waste Transportation

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what percentage of (a) road, (b) rail and (c) water traffic can be attributed to the transportation of waste; and if he will make a statement. [62428]

Ms Glenda Jackson [holding answer 8 December 1998]: Waste accounted for some 7 per cent. of the total tonnage of domestic waterborne freight in 1997. No information is currently available for the percentage of road and rail traffic accounted for by waste. This limited information will be taken into account in the follow up to the Department's consultation paper "Less Waste, More Value".

Devolution

Ms Roseanna Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) how much is spent annually by his Department on research programmes in Scotland; and what proportion of this funding will be transferred to the Scottish Parliament after devolution; [63278]

Mr. Meale: Under the terms of the Scotland Act 1998, the Scottish Ministers will assume responsibility for a range of devolved functions which will in part depend on secondary legislation which has yet to be passed. My Department is reviewing its programmes, including the research components, in the light of the Scotland Act. It is too early to say to what extent programme expenditure which is currently administered by the Department may

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relate to functions which will transfer to Scottish Ministers. Work is taking place to establish the extent of any such expenditure and to assess the needs for any consequential transfer of funds to the Scottish Ministers. For the total spending by the Department in Scotland I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to the hon. Member for North Tayside (Mr. Swinney) on 4 November 1998, Official Report, column 615.


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