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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 4 November 2002


Departmental Job Vacancies

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many job vacancies there were at (a) administrative assistant or equivalent, (b) administrative officer or equivalent, (c) administrative executive officer, (d) higher executive officer, (e) senior executive officer, (f) grade 7 principal and (g) all positions above grade 7 level in his Department for jobs located in (i) London and (ii) the south-east between 1 April 2001 and 31 March 2002; and what is the total employment for each civil service grade. [76558]

Peter Hain [holding answer 28 October 2002]: My Department has offices in London and Cardiff. It is staffed entirely by secondees. The table shows the number of vacancies by grade as at 1 April 2001 against total employment for each grade in London.

Responsibility levelVacanciesTotal Staff
Grades 6 and above2
Grade 74
Senior executive officer1
Higher executive officer19
Executive officer9
Administrative officer38
Administrative assistant15
Total non-industrial staff538

Political Appointments (Salaries)

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the salary costs are of political appointments made by him in 2002–03; and what the figures were in each of the last three years. [77637]

Peter Hain: The Secretary of State for Wales is entitled to appoint two special advisers. Special advisers are paid on national salary scales which apply to all Government Departments. The basic scale currently ranges from #34,851 to #45,760.


Air Transport Consultation

Andy King: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the total cost was of the Department for Transport exhibition at the village of Church Lawford on 29 to 30 October regarding the Midlands New Site Option, contained in the National Consultation on the Future of Air Transport in the UK. [79473]

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Mr. Jamieson: The approximate cost of the exhibition for the Midlands New Site Option is #82,000.

Biofuels Directive

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on how he intends to implement the EU Biofuel Directive. [72936]

Mr. Jamieson: Negotiations on the precise drafting of the Biofuels Directive are currently underway and the final form of the Directive has still to be agreed. Negotiations so far indicate it is likely that the key measure in the final version will be a requirement for member states to set indicative targets for 2005 and 2010 for the use of biofuels in transport. Transposition into UK law is likely to be via Regulations under the European Communities Act 1972.

Bus Services

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how he is ensuring improvements in off-peak frequency of bus services. [79080]

Mr. Jamieson: Around 82 per cent. of bus services outside London are provided commercially and it is for the operators of those services to decide upon appropriate frequencies. Local authorities have powers to subsidise enhanced services outside peak hours.

For rural areas local authorities can use their allocations from the Government's Rural Bus Subsidy Grant (RBSG) to fund off-peak services. RBSG allocations total #47.5 million in 2002–03, rising to #48.5 million in 2003–04.

In London, where local transport is the responsibility of the Mayor, most routes now operate seven days a week and are sufficiently frequent throughout the day to allow passengers to use the network on a "turn-up-and-go" basis. Routes operating at low frequency are regularly reviewed to see whether higher frequencies are worthwhile.

Colne-Skipton Railway

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will commission an assessment of the feasibility of re-opening the Colne-Skipton railway. [79085]

Mr. Jamieson: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport on 8 February 2002, Official Report, column 1186W. The situation remains the same.

Congestion Charging

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he intends to amend the Road User Charging (Enforcement and Adjudication) (London) Regulations 2001, pursuant to the Government undertaking to the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments of 19 October 2001. [78906]

Mr. Jamieson: Following the recent consultation, I anticipate that the amendment regulations will be made shortly, in time for implementation of the central London congestion charging scheme in February 2003.

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Disused Railway Track Beds

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent advice he has given to the (a) SRA and (b) planning authorities concerning the safeguarding of disused railway track beds. [79086]

Mr. Jamieson: The Directions and Guidance the Secretary of State has issued to the Strategic Rail Authority require the Authority, when considering the disposal of land (including disused trackbeds), to have regard to the sites' transport potential and to avoid taking a short-term view. The Authority should look to the rail industry and local authorities to acquire sites with rail potential, but if these bodies do not purchase sites the Authority should consider whether they should be retained for rail use at a later date. The XPlanning Policy Guidance Note 13: Transport", issued to Local Planning Authorities, states that local authorities should identify, and protect sites and routes, both existing and potential, which could be critical in developing infrastructure for the movement of freight.

Firefighters' Strike

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what preparations he has made to ensure the safety and continuity of service to the public in the event of a firefighters' strike. [77671]

Mr. Jamieson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and the Regions (Mr Raynsford) on 28 October 2002, Official Report, column 527W.

Frethun Rail Freight Yard

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will set out the nature and extent of the financial contribution by the Strategic Rail Authority to the package of measures to increase security at the Fréthun Rail freight yard; and if he will make a statement. [78907]

Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority has undertaken to contribute around half of the #7.5 million cost of fixed security installations at the Fréthun freight yard, by means of a freight facilities grant. The contribution is subject to the provision of project and budgetary information (which has now been received), confirmation of completion of works and an independent verification of the works by UK security experts.

Grassington (Rail Services)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will request the SRA to conduct a feasibility study into extending the railway from the quarry outside Grassington into the town itself. [79083]

Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority's Strategic Plan outlines its proposals for future projects and their priorities. The Authority will update the plan annually.

Home Zones Scheme

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department has made

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available through the Home Zones Scheme Capital Modernisation Fund since 2000; and how much has been (a) applied for and (b) spent in rural areas in (i) 2000–01, (ii) 2001–02 and (iii) 2002–03 to date. [78399]

Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 31 October 2002]: The Department has made #30 million available through the Capital Modernisation Fund for Home Zones Challenge projects. The funding covers a three year period from 2002–03. Successful projects were announced on 11 January 2002. The Home Zones Challenge is specifically aimed at improving the design of streets in residential locations. There were no applications from rural areas.

Invalid Carriages

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will amend his code of practice for class 3 vehicle users to include advice on the safe off-road storage of invalid carriages. [78619]

Mr. Jamieson: We are not aware of problems relating to safe off road storage of these vehicles but we would be happy to consider drawing up appropriate advice once we have information about the issue.

Loading Gauges

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which lines on the rail network have (a) W6a, (b) W6a-Pb and (c) Sb 1c loading gauge under Railtrack Group Standards; and if he will place copies of maps showing these lines in the Library. [78814]

Mr. Jamieson: I understand that the information requested and a map of the gauge classification of routes on the national network are available from the Route Directory section of the Railtrack Freight Commercial Website at http://www.railtrack.co.uk/industry—partners/freight/index.cfm. The information is also available as a small scale map in Railtrack's 2002 Network Management Statement.

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