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Best Value

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what assessment he has made of the relative success of best value performance indicators which depend on the measurement of (a) inputs, (b) outputs and (c) outcomes; [19275]

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Dr. Whitehead: The Best Value Performance Indicators have been designed to provide a rounded view of local government's performance. They reflect the resources devoted to the different services, the efficiency with which those resources are used, the quality of the services and service users' experience. They therefore include a mix of indicators which measure inputs, outputs and outcomes; the intention is to rely increasingly on outcome indicators whenever these can be clearly identified. The number of indicators against which an authority is required to report depends on the nature of an authority and the number of services it delivers. For 2001–02 unitary and metropolitan authorities are required to report performance on up to 123 indicators while for district councils the maximum number of indicators is 68. These will be reduced for 2002–03.

The Best Value Performance Indicators provide valuable information about the performance of individual authorities and enable local people to view the performance of their own authority alongside that of similar authorities. They will also track performance changes over time. Once best value performance plans are published in 2002 it will be possible to assess change over the two years that best value has been in place.

The Council of the Isles of Scilly is required to report on those services which it provides to local people. I understand that the Council has agreed to design a set of indicators appropriate to its circumstances, and will need to discuss these with the District Auditor.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what timetable he has set for implementing the results of his review of the operation of best value for local government. [19273]

Dr. Whitehead: The Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions announced on 1 October a three month review of the best value regime for local authorities aimed at improving the quality of services. A review group, under the chairmanship of the Minister for Local Government and the Regions, has been set up to take this work forward. The review group has been asked to report to the Secretary of State by the end of this year. The Secretary of State will consider its report early in the new year and respond to its recommendations. The timetable for implementing any measures announced in his response will depend on their nature, but the intention is to act as quickly as possible ahead of the 2002–03 financial year.

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what was the estimated cost in the latest available year of the best value regime to (a) central Government Departments, (b) local government, (c) fire authorities and (d) non-department public bodies and executive agencies. [19892]

Dr. Whitehead: (a) For the financial year 2001–02, £1,751,000 has been allocated for administrative costs associated with best value in central Government.

(b) £52 million has been allocated in 2001–02 by DTLR to cover the cost of best value audit and inspection in England. £21.7 million of this will be paid as grant to the Audit Commission and the remainder has been distributed through the Revenue Support Grant to cover the cost of audit fees charged to local authorities. No

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reliable estimates exist as to the other administrative costs incurred by authorities in complying with their duty under the Local Government Act 1999.

(c) Fire authorities precept from county councils and are thus included in the figures.

(d) The Audit Commission is the only NDPB with a formal role in best value. Their costs are met by DTLR as indicated.

Light Rail Schemes

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the average cost is in (a) overall terms and (b) cost per mile of light rail schemes (i) under consideration by the Government and (ii) in development. [19347]

Ms Keeble: The capital costs of light rail lines will depend on a significant number of factors. These include land prices, whether the route is segregated or contains street running sections, the degree of double tracking along a section of route, whether there is a need for major works such as tunnels or bridges as well as the extent of wider impacts such as utility diversions. Cost figures will also include vehicles. An average cost figure per kilometre across all schemes is therefore not particularly meaningful. The table sets out a very crude calculation of the capital cost per kilometre of light rail schemes that are currently under development using the latest figures for the overall capital costs of the relevant scheme divided by the length of the route. The figures are given in cash terms.

£ million

SchemeOverall capital costCapital cost per km
Sunderland Extension to Tyne and Wear Metro(10)1005.41
Nottingham Express Transit(11)14913.8
Manchester Metrolink phase 3(12)5138.9
Leeds Supertram: three lines(12)48417.3
South Hampshire Light Rail(12)19013.3
Merseytram21511.3
Stockport extension to Manchester Metrolink61.57.24
Midland Metro extensions to Birmingham centre and Wednesbury to Brierly Hill16511.1
Bristol and South Glos. light rail19011.2

(10) Due to open March 2002

(11) Due to open in 2003

(12) Construction to start in 2003


Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 23 November 2001, Official Report, column 498W, on light rail and tram schemes, which other schemes could open before 2006. [19132]

Ms Keeble: In view of the need to obtain powers under the Transport and Works Act, to carry out a tendering process and to construct the new lines, we do not currently expect lines other than those identified in my previous reply to be open by 2006

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the average estimated length of time is from first submission of a proposal to the Department to completion of a new light rail project independent of an existing system. [19351]

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Ms Keeble: Light rail systems typically take many years of planning and promoters are encouraged to discuss their ideas with the Department at an early stage. Accordingly, it is hard to identify precisely first submission of a proposal. The table shows the period between funding being approved and the opening of schemes in operation.

SchemeYear of firm funding approvalYear opened
Croydon19972000
Midland Metro19951999
South Yorkshire Supertram19901994–95
Manchester Metrolink line 119891992

Railtrack

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on Railtrack's cashflow position. [18937]

Mr. Jamieson: The cashflow of Railtrack plc is being managed by the administrator, to ensure the continued operations of the company, drawing down from the loan agreement that was put in place at the time of the administration, as necessary.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if Railtrack will be permitted to raise investment funding from any other source apart from the Government during the administration period. [18934]

Mr. Jamieson: Under paragraph 8.1.10 of the loan agreement, made available to the administrator, the administrator has the power to raise or borrow money.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what public subsidy to Railtrack in administration has been requested by the administrator for the period 7 October to the end of the 2001–02 financial year. [18953]

Mr. Jamieson: There is no public subsidy being provided to Railtrack in administration. Funding for Railtrack plc in administration is being provided through a commercial loan agreement, copies of which are in the House Library.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what estimates the Railtrack administrator has made of the final cost of completing the west coast main line modernisation. [19001]

Mr. Jamieson: A number of options for taking the project forward are currently under discussion. Until these discussions have been concluded, and final outputs agreed, an estimated cost of completion will not be known.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what was the most recent estimate by Railtrack of the total cost of the west coast main line modernisation prior to administration. [18954]

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Mr. Jamieson: Railtrack's 2001 Network Management Statement, published in May, estimated the cost of the project at £6.3 billion.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what procedures the Government are putting in place to ensure that routine (a) track and (b) signal maintenance is carried on a scheduled basis during the period of administration. [19850]

Mr. Jamieson: This is a matter for the administrator. The Government will continue to provide the administrator with sufficient funding to ensure the rail network operates on a "business as usual" basis during the administration period.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 23 November 2001, Official Report, column 496W, on Railtrack, what his Department's assessment of the value of the assets of Railtrack plc was as at 5 October. [19780]

Mr. Byers: The Department assessed the cash-flows that the assets would generate, and concluded that they would be insufficient to cover Railtrack's debt liability payments.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 21 November 2001, Official Report, column 277W, on Railtrack, what his Department's estimate of the cash needs of Railtrack plc in administration is in addition to the £3.5 billion already identified. [19910]

Mr. Byers: The cash needs of Railtrack plc in administration will depend on how long it remains in administration.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what is the credit rating of Railtrack bonds. [19425]

Mr. Spellar: Railtrack bonds currently have a long term credit rating of BB+ from Standard & Poor's and Baa1 from Moody's Investors Service.

Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 26 November 2001, Official Report, column 606W, on Railtrack, how many Railtrack shares were held by (a) individual and (b) institutional investors at flotation and in each subsequent year. [19841]

Mr. Jamieson: The number 1 of shares in Railtrack Group plc held by individual and institutional investors at flotation on 20 May 1996 and in each subsequent year—as detailed in the Annual Report and Accounts—is shown in the table.

Million

IndividualInstitutional
20 May 1996290210
24 April 1997170325
5 May 1998150355
30 April 1999115390
5 May 200090420
1 May 200190430

(13) Figures rounded to the nearest 5 million


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Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the average Railtrack shareholding of individual investors was in each year since flotation. [19842]

Mr. Jamieson: This information is not available to the Department.

Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions in (a) cash and (b) percentage terms, what profit including

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dividends received a Railtrack investor would have made in selling a single share bought at flotation when its value was at (i) its highest, (ii) its lowest and (iii) its average level. [19496]

Mr. Jamieson: The gross returns on a single share bought at flotation for £3.80 and sold at the highest ever, lowest ever and average closing price of Railtrack shares are provided in the table.

Value of share at saleSale price minus flotation price (£)Dividends received before date of sale (£)Gross cash return on flotation price (£)Gross percentage return on flotation price
Highest value on 23 November 1998 = £17.6813.880.6014.48381
Lowest value on 20 September 2001 = £2.52-1.281.400.123
Average value between 20 May 1996 and 5 October 2001 = £9.155.35(14)1.136.48171

(14) Shares were traded at the average daily share price several times, all falling in the 2000–01 financial year. Dividend payments therefore assume that the share was sold in 2000–01.


The returns do not take account of any tax liabilities or transaction charges paid by individual investors.

Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what proportion of Railtrack shares were held by institutional investors on (a) 1 May and (b) the first of each month up to 1 October. [19494]

Mr. Jamieson: The proportion of shares in Railtrack Group plc held by institutional investors on 1 May 2001—as detailed in the Annual Report and Accounts—was 83 per cent. Information on the proportion held on the first of each month up to 1 October is not available to the Department.


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