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Correspondence

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 26 March 2002, Official Report, column 983W, on target times for correspondence, in what proportion of cases in 2001–02 letters from (a) hon. Members and (b) members of the public were answered within 15 working days. [50339]

Dr. Whitehead: Information is published annually by the Cabinet Office on the volume of correspondence from Members of Parliament received by Ministers and Agency Chief Executives; Departments' and Agencies' handling targets; and their performance in meeting these targets.

Performance in handling correspondence from members of the public is collated internally each quarter. For the period 1 April 2001 to 31 December 2001 the

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Department's records show that it answered 99 per cent. of letters from the public within 15 working days. Figures for the final quarter of 2001–02 have not yet been collated.

Port Marine Safety Code

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his reply of 22 April 2002, Official Report, column 56W, on the port marine safety code, whether the Department was the originator of this correspondence; and for what reason his Department has chosen not to make the correspondence public. [53084]

Mr. Jamieson: The correspondence between Humber Pilots Ltd. and the Department was initiated by the company. As already explained, letters between the Department and its correspondents are treated in confidence unless the originator chooses to make them public.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the statutory harbour authorities in the UK broken down by (a) companies, (b) local authorities, (c) trusts and (d) other which had not completed implementation of the Port Marine Safety Code by 31 December 2001; what steps are being taken in each case to ensure compliance; and if he will make a statement. [52924]

Mr. Jamieson: The following competent harbour authorities have not yet notified my Department that they have implemented the Port Marine Safety Code:






















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My officials are corresponding with, and visiting, those authorities that have significant responsibilities for marine safety if they have not reported compliance with the Code.

Civil Aviation Authority

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what responsibilities Ministers have for the safety regulation duties of the CAA; and if he will make a statement. [52408]

Mr. Jamieson: The Civil Aviation Act 1982 and the Transport Act 2000 lay on the Secretary of State and the CAA complementary duties in relation to the regulation of aviation safety.

The Secretary of State has responsibility for encouraging measures for promoting safety in the use of civil aircraft and ensuring that international obligations are fulfilled; he is also answerable to Parliament generally for the performance of the CAA. The CAA has responsibility for advising the Secretary of State on all civil aviation safety matters and for regulating air safety through various licensing, certification and approval regimes.

In practice, the Secretary of State refrains from interfering in the CAA's day to day responsibilities. This is expressed in the letter which is customarily sent to Chairmen of the CAA shortly after their appointments specifying the broad policy framework in which the Authority is to operate. The letter also states that the Chairman's primary objective 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. A copy of this letter, dated 16 October 2001, is in the Libraries of the House.

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National Air Traffic Services

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps the Government are taking to ensure that their 49 per cent. shareholding in NATS is being administered properly. [52409]

Mr. Jamieson: As part of the structure of the public private partnership they have appointed three non- executive directors to the Board of NATS. These directors are responsible for safeguarding the Government's interests in the company. NATS is also required by the strategic partnership agreement to provide regular management information.

Pilotage

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions whether pilotage services operated by Humber Pilots Limited are covered by contract; and if he will make a statement. [53072]

Mr. Jamieson: Humber Pilots Ltd. no longer provide pilotage services: they gave notice on their contract with the competent harbour authority which expired in January 2002.

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which the Humber Pilots Limited contract with Associated British Ports was terminated and the former pilots' authorisations revoked; and if he will make a statement. [53070]

Mr. Jamieson: The contract between Associated British Ports and Humber Pilots Ltd. is a matter for the parties and it was not appropriate for Ministers to become involved in the dispute which arose between them over it. The Pilotage Act 1987 provides for there to be a contract between authorised pilots and their competent harbour authority, and for authorisations to be revoked if there ceases to be one.

I understand that, when Humber Pilots Ltd. gave notice on their contract, expiring in January 2002, the authority responded by formally advising each authorised pilot that his authorisation would then be revoked by virtue of termination of the contract between the authority and Humber Pilots Ltd.

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many Humber pilots work for Humber Pilots Limited; how many worked on 12 December 2001; and, in each case, how many were formally authorised by the competent harbour authority and what their qualifications were; and if he will make a statement. [53086]

Mr. Jamieson: I understand that no pilots worked for Humber Pilots Ltd: it was established as a co-operative under the Friendly Society Act 1965 with its members treated as self-employed. I also understand that, on 12 December 2001, 136 members of Humber Pilots Ltd. were authorised as pilots by the competent harbour authority. The Department does not have detailed information on their qualifications. The paper on the new Humber pilotage service mentioned in the answer given to the hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) on Tuesday

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16 April 2002, Official Report, columns 803–04W states (in paragraph 4.5.) that about 20 of the 136 did not have a Class 1 Certificate of Competency.

Flight Paths (London)

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what changes have taken place in the last 12 months in flight paths into (a) Gatwick and (b) Stansted which have affected the number of flights above Walthamstow. [52958]

Mr. Jamieson: None. The Walthamstow area is mainly affected by overflight of aircraft inbound to London Heathrow and outbound from London City. It may sometimes also be overflown by aircraft inbound to London Stansted, when that airport is operating in a north easterly direction.


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