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7 Jan 2003 : Column 99W—continued


Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the life expectancy of Concorde is; and if he will make a statement. [88956]

Mr. Jamieson: The service life of Concorde is a commercial decision, depending primarily on the rate of utilisation by the operator. The existing fatigue life of the aircraft can be extended by the operator carrying out an appropriate programme of modifications.


Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 9 December 2002, Official Report, column 30W, who the specialist

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consultants in event management were who were commissioned to identify suitable venues to organise the public exhibitions on the airport options; and what their fee was. [87270]

Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 16 December 2002]: Crown Business Communications Ltd. were commissioned to organise the public exhibitions as part of the Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom consultation. Their fee for doing this work was #127,752.


Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will meet representatives of SUSTRANS to discuss protection of the trackbed of disused railway lines for possible re-opening when planning cycleways. [88415]

Mr. Jamieson: The Department has a continuing dialogue with SUSTRANS on transport issues. On this issue it would be more appropriate for representatives of SUSTRANS to meet with the relevant officials of the Strategic Rail Authority.

Flying (DVT)

Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what incentive airlines are offering their passengers to complete questionnaires on behalf of researchers involved in the WHO study into DVT and flying; [88847]

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Mr. Jamieson: This is primarily a matter between the airlines and the researchers carrying out the World Health Organisation's study into DVT and flying, but I understand that:

Foreign Seafarers

Mr. Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many foreign seafarers have been employed on UK-registered merchant ships in each of the past five years. [88902]

Mr. Jamieson: Employment of seafarers is a matter for shipping companies and the Department does not maintain records of the nationalities of seafarers employed on UK registered ships.

In the past five years, 6,097 certificates of equivalent competency have been issued to foreign officers, and a further 10,574 have qualified for UK certificates of competency. These officers are eligible to serve on UK ships, although many serve on foreign registered vessels. (Most officers only apply for a certificate of equivalent competency when there is likelihood of employment on a UK ship).

Some limited information is available from returns of companies entered in tonnage tax, but in most cases, this only covers the last two years and does not cover all UK registered ships.

Green Ministers

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which Minister in his Department is the nominated Green Minister; how often he has attended meetings of the Green Ministers; and which official has responsibility for the DEFRA rural proofing check-list in his Department. [88459]

Mr. Jamieson : I represent the Department for Transport on the Green Ministers' committee ENV(G). It is established practice under exemption two of Part II of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information not to disclose information relating to the proceedings of Cabinet Committees.

Policy responsibility for rural proofing lies in the Department for Transport with Regional Transport Directorate.

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Illegal Minicabs

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many illegal minicabs have been stopped this year for (a) having no tax disc and (b) being unroadworthy; and what penalties were imposed; [89250]

Mr. Jamieson: It is for local enforcement authorities (district/borough councils, unitary authorities or Transport for London) and the police to publicise the undesirability of using illegal minicabs and to deal with breaches in the law by their drivers. Records are not kept centrally.

Local Bus Services

Dr. Richard Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to increase the level of local bus services that are not profitable for bus operators. [88843]

Mr. Jamieson: Decisions on subsidy for local bus services that are not provided on a commercial basis are for individual local authorities, taking account of local priorities and the resources available to them in Revenue support grant and, for example, from my Department's rural bus subsidy grant scheme. I am aware there have been a number of commercial services withdrawn recently in Worcestershire and that the county council has taken action to replace a number of these with subsidised services.


Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what decibel level was predicted on the M20, junctions 8 and 9, at the time of the public inquiry prior to the construction of the motorway. [88346]

Mr. Jamieson: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Tim Matthews, to write to the hon. Member. Letter from Mr. Tim Matthews to Mr. Hugh Robertson, dated 7 January2003:

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Marine Surveyors

Mr. Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many marine surveyors were employed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in each of the past five years. [88906]

Mr. Jamieson: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency have employed the following numbers of surveyors over the last 5 years.

1998 160
1999 160
2000 149
2001 157
2002 162

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