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Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what requirement will be placed on (a) the train operating companies and (b) the successor company to Railtrack to employ people with qualifications from the National Rail Academy. 
Mr. Byers [holding answer 12 March 2002]: The issue of qualifications will in part be addressed through the 'Framework for Skills' 18-Point Action Plan. It is likely that the National Rail Academy will have a key role to play in relation to standards and qualifications. However, its precise role and the relationship with the Rail Industry Training Council, the existing National Training Organisation and the prospective Sector Skills Council have yet to be determined.
Mr. Byers [holding answer 12 March 2002]: The Government have made available £33.5 billion to improve the railways of which £500,000 is being allocated by the Strategic Rail Authority to develop a number of training initiatives during this year. There is currently no fixed establishment date for the National Rail Academy and it is likely that it will evolve progressively from a number of current initiatives.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what estimate he has made of the skills shortage in the rail industry in terms of (a) numbers of people and (b) skill areas. 
Mr. Byers [holding answer 12 March 2002]: The progress report on the delivery of the Framework for Skills for the Rail Industry provides at Annexe 4 an analysis of the occupations in which there are skill shortages. The report is available on the Department for Education and Skills websitewww.dfes.gov.uk/ railindustry.
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Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what guidance he has issued to the SRA in respect of the creation of special purpose vehicles for rail projects; and if he will place it in the Library. 
Mr. Byers [holding answer 12 March 2002]: On 29 June 2001 I issued draft Directions and Guidance to the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA). These would direct the SRA to consider the use of Special Purpose Vehicles to undertake rail infrastructure works (section 8.2) and require the SRA to detail in its strategy how and by when such projects will be introduced (section 7.4). A copy was placed in the House Library at the time of their publication.
Ms Oona King: To ask the Chairman of the Information Committee what measures he is taking to improve remote access to PDVN for hon. Members' constituency staff; and what recent assessment he has made of the reliability of access to the network. 
Michael Fabricant: I fully recognise the need to improve the reliability of remote access services for hon. Members' constituency staff. As a short-term measure, the Parliamentary Communications Directorate has tested an upgrade to the existing remote access software (Citrix) and plans to make it available shortly to all hon. Members.
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It is expected that this upgrade will improve the performance of the remote access service, within the limitations of the Citrix product.
The question of remote access for constituency staff is a matter for the President of the Council and is being pursued in the context of the changes to hon. Members' allowances which were agreed by the House on 5 July 2001. I understand that the House is in the final stages of placing a contract to provide Members with improved access to the Internet and to the Parliamentary Data and Video Network (PDVN) via a commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP). Once the necessary administrative, financial and technical elements are in place, Members' constituency offices will be able to connect directly to the PDVN using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which will allow broadband access (such as ADSL where available) as well as ISDN and dial-up services. It is hoped that a pilot of the new service will take place in July 2002, and I am optimistic that this long-term solution will provide considerable benefits for hon. Members and their staff.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if she will list powers transferred by her Department to the Scottish Executive under provisions of the Scotland Act in (a) 200001 and (b) 200102. 
|Statutory instrument||Power transferred|
|S.I. 2000/1563||The Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers, etc.) Order 2000|
|S.I. 2000/3251||The Scotland Act 1998 (Cross-Border Public Authorities)(Adaptation of Functions etc.)(No. 2) Order 2000|
|S.I. 2000/3253||The Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers, etc.)(No. 2) Order 2000|
|S.I. 2001/954||The Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers, etc.) Order 2001|
|S.I. 2001/3504||The Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers, etc.)(No. 2) Order 2001|
Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent representations she has received on vehicle speed limits on the A76 trunk road for (a) passenger cars and (b) heavy goods vehicles. 
Mr. Foulkes: The future role of all forms of power will be considered in the Energy White Paper which was referred to by the Prime Minister in his foreword to the Cabinet Office Energy Review publication.
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Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what consultations she has had with representatives of the Scottish Executive regarding a public inquiry into the foot and mouth outbreaks in Scotland. 
Mrs. Liddell: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has announced two independent inquiries into the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001. The "Lessons Learned" inquiry has been asked to make recommendations on the handling of any future major animal disease outbreak. The Royal Society has been asked to investigate the transmission, prevention and control of epidemic outbreaks of infectious disease in livestock, and to make recommendations. The "Lessons Learned" inquiry and the Royal Society inquiry both extend to Scotland, and the Scottish Executive has presented views to both inquiries. The inquiries will report to Ministers in the Scottish Executive as well as to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what consultations she has had with Scottish Executive Ministers and European Union officials on a public inquiry into the foot and mouth outbreaks in Scotland. 
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Mr. Leslie: Cabinet Office policy is to reimburse approved costs that are necessarily and unavoidably incurred as a result of relocation. Levels of reimbursement are agreed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the availability of funding in the management unit to which an individual is attached.
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