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Train Operating Companies

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions which senior executives of train operating companies he has held discussions with since 7 October. [24170]

Mr. Jamieson: My right hon. Friend maintains regular contact with representatives of the Train Operating Companies, including the Association of Train Operating Companies.


Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on UK involvement in COTIF. [24124]

Mr. Jamieson: The UK is one of 40 signatory states to COTIF—the convention concerning international carriage by rail. Rail passengers and freight shippers therefore benefit from a uniform set of rules for international rail journeys, including conditions of carriage and compensation in the event of loss or damage. The UK is a member of the Administrative Committee of OTIF (the intergovernmental organisation comprising the COTIF signatory states) for the period 2001–05.

A new protocol amending the COTIF convention was agreed by the member states in 1999. This protocol is not yet in force and cannot be until it has been ratified by two thirds of the member states. New primary legislation is needed before the UK can ratify this protocol and we expect to seek these powers in due course.

Rail Safety

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions who has responsibility for ensuring that the gap between platform edge and carriage running board at Lymington Town station is safe. [24873]

Mr. Jamieson: Responsibility for the day to day safety, welfare and convenience of passengers using Lymington Town station rests with Railtrack and South West Trains.

Railways (Electrification)

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment his Department has made of the costs of electrifying the rail link between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury. [25110]

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Mr. Jamieson: No such assessment has been made. Any proposal for investment in infrastructure would need to be justified in terms of economic benefit. The Strategic Rail Authority will set out the priorities for investment in railways in the Strategic Plan it intends to publish on 14 January.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if, under current regulations, business loans from banks or charities preclude people from claiming (a) council tax rebates and (b) housing benefit. [18256]

Malcolm Wicks: I have been asked to reply.

To ensure equity of treatment between people claiming income-related benefits, all capital is subject to the same rules, regardless of how it has been acquired. No benefit is payable if capital exceeds the higher capital limit, which is currently £16,000 for council tax benefit and housing benefit.


Joint Residence Orders

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what assessment she has made of (a) the use and (b) the effectiveness of joint residence orders. [24517]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Joint residence orders are rare because, if parents are able to agree a regime of shared care, a court order is unlikely to be necessary. However, in "Re: D (Shared Residence Order) 2000" the Court of Appeal decided that, in this case, it was in the child's best interests for the court to recognise the living arrangements brought about by a shared parenting regime. Although no formal assessment has been undertaken, the courts have found that shared residence arrangements can be problematic, especially if parents find it difficult to agree matters between themselves. Shared residence can sometimes be disruptive to children's educational and social development, particularly if parents live some distance apart.

Access of Justice Act

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, what has been the saving to public funds so far from the implementation of the Access to Justice Act 1999; and if she will provide a breakdown of that saving. [25256]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Access to Justice Act 1999 brought about reform over a wide range of publicly funded services, amendments to the law of legal aid in Scotland, provision about appeals, courts, judges and court proceedings. The Act also amended the law concerning magistrates and magistrates courts proceedings, and made provision for immunity from action and costs and indemnities for certain officials exercising judicial functions. As such it is not possible to quantify the savings to public funds from its implementation.

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Access to Public Records

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, for what reason the Public Record Office has not released files (a) CO 733, vol. 495, (b) CO 926 vol. 2084, (c) FO 492 vol. 11, (d) FO 487 vol. 11, (e) DEFE 7/389, (f) CO 537/3848, (g) CO 537/3851 and (h) CO 537/3854 for public access; and if she will make a statement. [25520]

Ms Rosie Winterton: All the files listed are open to inspection at the Public Record Office except FO 492/11 and FO 487/11, which were not selected for permanent preservation.

Researchers who require access to records held by the PRO and catalogued as closed, or to historical records held by Departments, should first ask the PRO to check their status. If the records are closed or retained, researchers can apply for a review of access restrictions. They should write to the Departmental Record Officer of the Department that created the records (or its successor) quoting the PRO reference where this is known. Such

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requests are handled in the order in which they are received except where information is urgently required for legal purposes.

Judge Hutton

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, when the report the Lord Chancellor has requested into the halting of a trial presided over by Judge Gabriel Hutton will be produced; if it will be made publicly available; and if he will make a statement. [25706]

Mr. Wills: An initial report is currently being prepared by officials for the Lord Chancellor's consideration. It brings together statements from a range of people who were present in court at the point when Judge Hutton is alleged to have fallen asleep, including the Judge himself. The Lord Chancellor would not normally publish the contents of such a report. However, he will make public his final decision about the Judge's conduct once he is satisfied that the matter has been fully investigated and he has been able to consider all the relevant facts and considerations.

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Research and Development

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many research and development projects will be affected by changes in regional funding for research and development in England; [9057]

Mr. Hutton: Changes made to regional research and development schemes will not affect the current funding of research projects already supported through those schemes. New research projects will continue to be commissioned through the national health service research programmes, which are open to all.


Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many new patients have been diagnosed with diabetes in the East Gloucestershire NHS Trust area in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available; [16151]

Ms Blears: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Waiting Lists

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients were waiting in accident and emergency units in the South Cheshire health authority in October (a) 1997 and (b) 2001. [16533]

Ms Blears: It is not possible to record data on patients waiting in accident and emergency units as it is a constantly changing situation. However data are collected on the number of patients admitted via accident and emergency units in South Cheshire health authority, which are shown in the table.

Emergency admissions via A&E

Qtr 2
Number of patients admitted via A&E in Quarter6,8238,837
Number of patients admitted to a ward within two hours6,6377,697
Number of patients admitted to a ward within two to four hours167838
Number of patients not admitted to a ward within four hours19302

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients (1) were waiting (a) between 13 and 25 and (b) over 26 weeks for appointments in the Portsmouth Hospital Trust area; [22213]

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Ms Blears [holding answer 11 December 2001]: In the second quarter (July-September) of 2001–02, 4,231 patients had been waiting between 13–25 weeks and 1,249 had been waiting over 26 weeks for out-patients appointments at Portsmouth Hospitals National Health Service Trust. Information on the numbers of patients waiting for in-patient treatment is in the table.

Total number of patients on in-patient waiting list at Portsmouth Hospital/NHS Trust 1999–2000 to 2001–02

Number of waiting list



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