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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 1 November 2000


Aston Clinton Bypass

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on (a) the date of commencement and (b) the date of intended completion of construction of the Aston Clinton Bypass. [134416]

Mr. Hill: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Tim Matthews, to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Tim Matthews to Mr. John Bercow, dated 1 November 2000:

Dog Identification Working Group

Mr. Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he plans to publish the minutes of evidence of the Dog Identification Working Group; and if he will list the groups and organisations which gave evidence to the group in respect of the use of implanted microchips. [134358]

Mr. Hill: The report of the Dog Identification Group contains copies of the minutes of the meetings and the evidence they considered. I will make an announcement soon with regard to the publication of the report. The following groups and organisations were represented on the Dog Identification Group and others are indicated where they provided separate evidence.

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The Blue Cross
Chartered Institute for Environmental Health (CIEH)
The Dogs' Home Battersea
The Kennel Club
Local Government Association (LGA)
National Canine Defence League (NCDL)
National Dog Wardens Association (NDWA)
Pet Care Trust (PCT)
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)
Wood Green Animal Shelters
Animal Health Trust (AHT)
Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)
Other Government Departments (MAFF, Home Office, Scotland
Office, National Assembly for Wales, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Region, Northern Ireland Office)
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS)
Other evidence provided by:
Bradford Metropolitan District Council
Bristol City Council
British Dalmatian Club
British Small Animal Veterinary Association
N Cardwell (Senior Dog Warden Belfast)
The Association of British Dogs' Homes.

Mr. Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he expects to receive the report of the Dog Identification Working Group; when he plans to respond to that report; and if he plans to publish the report and his responses thereto. [134363]

Mr. Hill: I met the Dog Identification Group on 6 September where they formally presented me with their report. I agreed to consider the group's recommendations and at this stage I am minded to consult interested bodies on the content of the report and to place a copy on the Department's website. I will make a further announcement soon on the next course of action.

Rail Safety

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is his most recent estimate of the number of defective rails requiring urgent attention by Railtrack for safety reasons in each regional train operator's franchise and in total. [134895]

Mr. Hill: On Friday 27 October there were 276 sites where Railtrack engineers were checking for evidence of gauge corner cracking, the fault which is believed to have caused the accident at Hatfield.

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what rules govern regular consultation and exchange of information and opinion between representatives of train crews and representatives of train operators, Railtrack and other agencies related to safe operation of railways; how often such meetings take place; what reports are made to him concerning such deliberations; and if he will review such rules. [135448]

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Mr. Hill: The current legal requirements relating to worker consultation in relation to train crews are set out in: the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974; the European "Framework" Directive 89/391/EEC; the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977; the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996; and the Railways (Safety Case) Regulations 1994. The new Railway (Safety Case) Regulations 2000, which will come into force on 31 December 2000, will strengthen the arrangements for consultation and communication. The recently mandated confidential incident reporting and analysis system (CIRAS) allows for regular quarterly meetings to discuss and probe particular adverse events. The unions are represented on the Railway Industry Advisory Committee (RIAC) and Railtrack's Safety Advisory Body (SAB). Details of the meetings taking place under these provisions are not normally communicated to the Secretary of State. The Rail Safety Monitoring Group also includes union representation and is responsible for monitoring implementation of the industry's safety commitments announced at the second Rail Safety Summit in November 1999. The Secretary of State is informed of the outcome of these meetings.

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will add to the current remit of the Railways and Health and Safety Inspectorates, assessment of potential systems and structures of financing, assisting planning, maintaining, contracting for reward and operating railway services in the United Kingdom in respect of their optimum contributions to safety. [135449]

Mr. Hill: The role of HM Railway Inspectorate, a division of the Health and Safety Executive, is to secure the proper control of risks to the health and safety of employees, passengers and others who might be affected by the operation of Britain's railways. The Health and Safety Executive's remit already extends to considering the implications for health and safety of structural changes within the railway industry and taking action where appropriate to secure the maintenance of health and safety standards. It would not be appropriate to pre-empt the outcome of Lord Cullen's wide-ranging public inquiry into railway safety by proposing major changes to the Executive's functions at the present time.

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many people on passenger trains were killed in railway accidents in each of the last three years. [135100]

Mr. Hill: The number of people on passenger trains killed in railway accidents is shown in the following table produced by the Health and Safety Executive's HM Railway Inspectorate.

Railway Staff0022

Comprehensive data on railway safety can be found in HM Chief Inspector of Railways Annual Reports on Railway Safety in Great Britain, copies of which can be found in both House Libraries.

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Regional Development Agencies

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if the allocation of resources to regional development agencies will be determined by the recently published Index of Multiple Deprivation. [134567]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The RDAs' existing programmes will largely continue in 2001-02. The proposed new arrangements for allocating the physical regeneration budget include use of the Indices of Deprivation 2000 and the agreed transitional arrangements. No other RDA programme uses the indices.

The method for allocating funds to RDAs under the new single programme from April 2002 has not been decided. A variety of indicators and indices are likely to play a part.

Trunk Roads

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) if he will publish the criteria used for recommending the detrunking of a road; [134413]

Mr. Hill: The trunk road network was created by and defined in the Trunk Roads Act 1936 as the national system of routes for through traffic. The Trunk Roads Act 1946 extended the network. Neither Act specified criteria for including a route in the trunk road network.

The provisions of the 1946 Act, now incorporated as section 10 of the Highways Act 1980, require the Secretary of State to keep the trunk road network under review, and if he is satisfied, after taking into consideration the requirements of local and national planning, including the requirements of agriculture, that it is expedient for the purpose of extending, improving or reorganising the system he may create new trunk roads or remove existing ones by publication of an order under that section of the Act.

During the Roads Review in 1997-98 we undertook a comprehensive review of the existing trunk road network and identified a core network of routes that were of truly national strategic importance today. This core network will remain as the national system of routes for through traffic while the non-core routes that serve only regional or local functions will be detrunked and become the responsibility of local highway authorities. The factors for deciding which routes should be retained in the core network included:

They were published in our integrated transport White Paper "A New Deal for Transport" (Cm 3950) published in July 1998.

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