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Railway Line Closures

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what contingency plans his Department and the SRA have made for line closures. [23941]

Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 18 December 2001]: There are statutory procedures prescribed in the Railways Act 1993, as amended by the Transport Act 2000, which must be followed before a full line closure can take place. There are currently no plans to take forward any new closure proposals.

19 Dec 2001 : Column: 542W

Road Accident Blackspots

Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions where the top six predicted road accident blackspots are; and what estimate he has made of the predicted number of deaths in each one in the next 30 year period. [24059]

Mr. Jamieson: It is not possible to predict where specific accident blackspots will be in the future. Casualties at different sites vary from year to year and the numbers can be affected in particular years by major incidents which are not typical.

Operation Stack (Working Party)

Mr. Howard: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he will announce his decision on the recommendations contained in the report of the working party into alternatives to Operation Stack. [23939]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 18 December 2001]: My officials have scrutinised the report of the working party into the provision of an alternative to Operation Stack. It is important that we find the right way forward and further consideration is being given as to the way ahead in liaison with Kent CC. Decisions will be made in due course.

19 Dec 2001 : Column: 543W

Air Safety

Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the relationship between the Civil Aviation Authority Economic Regulator and Safety Regulator, with particular reference to the means by which they communicate to ensure air safety. [23561]

Mr. Jamieson: The Directors of the Consumer Protection Group (which issues airline licences), Economic Regulation Group (ERG) and Safety Regulation Group (SRG) are all members of the Board of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). They all sit on the Executive Committee, which has responsibility for corporate governance, the approval of strategy and ensuring the development and execution of policy.

19 Dec 2001 : Column: 544W

In the event of there being concerns about the financial viability of an air operator or an air traffic service provider, particularly where the safety of operations may be affected, arrangements are in place for this to be brought to the immediate attention of the Group Director Safety Regulation. The Safety Regulator, based on the information before him, would in turn instigate appropriate action to ensure the continued maintenance of air safety.

Section 2(1) of the Transport Act 2000 enshrines the paramountcy of safety by placing it ahead of other regulatory considerations for the CAA. Furthermore the CAA has set up an internal committee comprising representatives of SRG, ERG and the Directorate of Airspace Policy to exercise oversight of the air traffic services licence.

The primary objective of the Chairman of the CAA is to ensure that the CAA continues to promote, in an efficient and cost-effective way, high standards of safety in all aspects of civil aviation.