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Air Safety

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) if he will list the occasions in the last five years where twin-engined transport aircraft have made single-engined approaches to Heathrow; [85846]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The Civil Aviation Authority has received 24 reports relating to transport aircraft approaching Heathrow airport with one engine inoperative in the last five years. Nine of these reports related to twin engined aircraft. It is not possible to determine which, if any, of these incidents involved flights over central London as approaches are also made from the west.

The dates on which the incident involving twin engined aircraft occurred, together with the aircraft types involved, are as follows:

DateAircraft type
22 September 1994B757
25 January 1995B737
1 November 1996B737
24 November 1996B737
5 July 1997A310
26 August 1997B757
15 May 1998A321
9 July 1998A300
20 January 1999A310

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of trends in the number of aircraft near-misses in the last year; and what action has been initiated to check the efficiency of the air traffic control system. [85847]

Ms Glenda Jackson: All reported airprox incidents are fully investigated by the independent UK Airprox Board (UKAB). In 1998, UKAB investigated 202 airprox incidents, a figure slightly lower than at any time in the past decade, despite significant increases in traffic over that period. Of these, only 7 were assessed as being risk-bearing and attributable to National Air Traffic Services (NATS). This is the lowest figure in the 1990s despite record traffic levels. However, there is no cause for complacency and Ministers and NATS continue to ensure that the highest priority is given to maintaining and, where practicable, improving on the UK's outstanding safety record.

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 223

Coastguard

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what provision HM Coastguard makes for the control of the operations room by experienced staff during meal breaks. [85839]

Ms Glenda Jackson: HM Coastguard Operational Instructions are clear that during a temporary absence of a watch manager, such as meal breaks, the watch manager is to ensure that a suitable officer is nominated and has assumed full responsibility for the Watch, and that an entry to this effect is made in the Operations Room Log.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list each occasion in the last 12 months on which untrained staff were substituted for trained Coastguard personnel. [85842]

Ms Glenda Jackson: On no occasions were untrained staff substituted for trained Coastguard personnel over the last 12 months.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what consultation has taken place with the Coastguard at Dover Maritime Rescue Control Centre about the implementation of the mandatory reporting regime. [85881]

Ms Glenda Jackson: Mandatory reporting has been discussed at each 3 monthly meeting of the Channel Navigation Information Service (CNIS) Technical Working Group since September 1997. Coastguard Operations Room Staff representatives are present at all these meetings. In October 1997, a special meeting took place involving Regional, District, Operations Room and the, then Coastguard Agency (TCA) Technical Staff to discuss the implications and any necessary changes to current procedures. The last two Dover District Management Board Meetings have included mandatory reporting as the main agenda item. Two circulars on the subject have been issued to all staff who also have access to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) source documentation.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions on how many occasions in the last six months the broadcast service for mariners in the Swansea area has been reduced. [85880]

Ms Glenda Jackson: There have been no occasions in the last six months when the broadcast service to mariners in the Swansea area has been reduced.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what extra staff will be required by HM Coastguard to fulfil their additional duties to deal with weather forecasts and meteorological reports; and what talks have taken place on this subject with staff representatives. [85840]

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 224

Ms Glenda Jackson: HM Coastguard has recruited 40 additional Coastguard Watch Assistants (Operations) nationwide to supplement existing Co-ordination Centre watchkeeping complements to assist in the broadcast of Maritime Safety Information (MSI).

The Coastguard Trade Unions were notified of HM Coastguard's future responsibilities for MSI in October 1998, and this was followed by a first meeting in November 1998. Consultation took place in February 1999 with Operations Room staff and District Management teams regarding the operational procedures, radio coverage, frequencies and scheduling required for the broadcast of Maritime Safety Information by HM Coastguard. As part of this process, the Coastguard Trade Unions were also invited to comment. The Maritime Safety Information radio broadcast instructions provided to HM Coastguard Co-ordination Centres are a direct result of this consultation.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list the recommended staffing levels for the Maritime Rescue Sub Centre Co-ordinating stations at (i) Oban, (ii) Liverpool, (iii) Belfast and (iv) Stornoway for the period January to April 1999. [85843]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The recommended staffing levels at Oban, Liverpool, Belfast and Stornoway for the period January to April 1999 are as follows.



    Liverpool--1 DC, 1 DDC, 4 WMs, 8 WOs, 8 CWA (O)s, 1CWA(A)


    Belfast--1 DC, 1 DDC, 4 WMs, 9 WOs, 6 CWA (O)s, 1CWA(A)


    Stornoway--1 DC, 1 DDC, 4 WMs, 5 WOs, 7 CWA(O)s, 1 CWA(A).

A full-time CWA post may be split between 2 part-time staff.

Domestic Air Routes

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what changes there have been in the published times for arrival and departure for domestic air routes in the last 12 months; [85927]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The information requested in the first question is set out in the table. The data have been gathered from the Official Airline Guide. Due to the number of airports and different permutations of routes, the information requested in the second question could be supplied only at disproportionate cost.

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 223

RouteApproximate scheduled journey time in 1999 (minutes) Change over last 10 years
Heathrow-Glasgow75Increase of approximately 2 minutes in 1999
Gatwick-Glasgow85Increase of approximately 2 minutes in 1998
Stansted-Glasgow80No change
Heathrow-Manchester55Increase of approximately 5 minutes in 1999
Gatwick-Manchester65Increase of approximately 5 minutes in 1999
Stansted-Manchester60No change
Heathrow-Belfast75No change
Gatwick-BelfastNo service
Stansted-BelfastNo service

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 225

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 225

Local Government Finance

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what principles and objectives underlie the review of standard spending assessments; and if he will make a statement. [85740]

Ms Armstrong: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Burstow) by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale) on 24 May 1999, Official Report, column 8.

British Rail Employees (Asbestosis)

Ms Kelly: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 25 May 1999, Official Report, column 84, on British Rail employees, what information is available from the British Railways Board on compensation payments since 1991 to former employees of British Rail who are diagnosed as having mesothelioma, asbestosis or primary carcinoma of the lungs related to exposure to asbestos. [85935]

Ms Glenda Jackson: I refer to my answers of 17 May 1999, Official Report, column 245 and 25 May 1999, Official Report, column 84. I will ask the Secretary to the Board to write to my hon. Friend, to provide an opportunity for her to discuss any particular concerns she may have in this matter.


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