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Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to ensure that the training of senior officers in the fire service forms an integral part of safety management arrangements within the Major Accident Hazard Regulations 1999. 
Dr. Whitehead: The Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 require the operators of certain potential hazardous establishments to prepare on-site emergency plans. The local authority for areas where there are such establishments is required to prepare off-site emergency plans including the involvement of the fire service. These plans are required to be tested at least at three-yearly intervals.
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The emergency procedures and training are largely site-specific to the potential risks presented by each establishment. Specific training to enable senior fire service officers to deal with major hazardous materials incidents is provided centrally at the Fire Service College in the form of the Hazardous Materials and Environmental Protection course.
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list those bodies responsible for training requirements within the fire service which are responsible for safety; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Whitehead: Fire authorities, as employers, are responsible for the enforcement of safe systems at work in their local fire service. The Health and Safety executive is responsible for the enforcement of health and safety and the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council provides advice and guidance to the Minister about the appropriate training for the Fire Service.
Dr. Whitehead: Updated guidance on the inspection process is regularly issued within Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate (HMFSI). Based on this guidance HMFSI assess virtual reality training arrangements within the overall inspections of brigades.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many deaths were caused by exposure to asbestos in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Whitehead: In 1998, the year in which the most recent data are available, a total of around 1,600 deaths were attributable to asbestos exposure. Between 1,500 and 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year may also be attributable to asbestos, but these cannot be determined exactly since they are individually indistinguishable from cancers due to other causes such as smoking.
Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the potential of liquid biofuels to (a) improve local air quality, (b) save energy and (c) cut greenhouse gases. 
Mr. Jamieson: As assessment of the environmental benefits of several potential liquid biofuels in the road transport sector was made by DETR for the Government's Green Fuel Challenge. A summary of this assessment is in the House of Commons Library and on the internet at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/index.htm.
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announced in the 2001 Budget the introduction of 20p/l duty cut for biodiesel, relative to ultra low sulphur diesel, from Budget 2002. Limited duty reductions or exemptions for viable pilot projects supporting research and development into other potential liquid biofuels, such as bioethanol and biogas, will be also granted.
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what research his Department is undertaking to establish the cost and feasibility of establishing a national school bus strategy; and what the cost is of the proposed pilot scheme approved by his Department. 
Ms Keeble: My Department has recently commissioned a study to test the likely take-up, by children who are not entitled to free home-to-school transport, if additional school transport services were provided and the extent to which this might be influenced by cost and other factors. Separately, FirstGroup has told us that many authorities are interested in running pilot schemes using American-style yellow school buses. We reached agreement with FirstGroup earlier in the year on modifications to the vehicles it intends to use for the pilots so that they will satisfy UK regulatory requirements. We intend to commission a study to monitor these pilot schemes once they have been agreed. The cost of the pilot schemes is a matter for FirstGroup and the local authorities concerned who will wish to be assured that the pilot schemes give value for money.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when it is expected that (a) 25 per cent., (b) 50 per cent., (c) 75 per cent. and (d) 100 per cent. of stations will be accredited under the secure stations scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Keeble: The Department has not set any targets for the number of stations to be accredited under the secure stations scheme. The scheme is a voluntary one and it is up to the Train Operating Companies to decide which of their stations to put through the Scheme's accreditation process.
There are currently 110 stations accredited under the secure stations scheme. This includes three reaccreditations. We are aware that a number of stations are currently working towards accreditation and that some train operating companies have a commitment to the scheme within their franchises. We will continue to work with the rail industry to encourage further accreditations. The Strategic Rail Authority is seeking to encourage train operators to obtain more accreditations at appropriate locations in the franchise replacement and extension process.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions which stations are accredited under the secure stations scheme (a) for each month since the scheme began and (b) expected for the end of each year between 2001 and 2010; and what proportion they represent of the total number of stations. 
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The percentage of stations accredited under the scheme is very small in relation to the number of stations eligible to be accredited under the scheme. However, the accredited stations account for approximately one third of the total annual passenger throughput of overground rail journeys.
The Department has not set any targets for the number of stations to be accredited under the secure stations scheme. The scheme is a voluntary one and it is up to the train operating companies to decide which of their stations to put through the scheme's accreditation process.
Ms Keeble: There are currently 110 stations accredited under the secure stations scheme. This includes three reaccreditations. The secure stations scheme, which was launched in April 1998, is designed to improve and standardise good security practices at all overground and underground stations. To become an accredited secure
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station, each station operator needs to work with their local British Transport Police crime reduction officer to ensure that their station meets the national standards on design and management to cut down crime. The standards relate to such measures as staff training, Help Points, CCTV, lighting and information. Operators also have to conduct an independent passenger survey to see whether passengers feel safe at the station, and provide evidence that crime rates are low.
We are aware that a number of stations are currently working towards accreditation and we will continue to work with the rail industry to encourage further accreditations. The Strategic Rail Authority is seeking to encourage train operators to obtain more accreditations at appropriate locations in the franchise replacement and extension process.
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