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4 Feb 2003 : Column 141Wcontinued
Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the Government's commitment to increasing rail passenger use by 50 per cent. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Government published a report on its targets and progress in meeting them in relation to the 10-year Plan on 17 December 2002. Copies are available in the Libraries of the House.
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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the oral statement of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State on 29 October 2002, Official Report, columns 20304WH, on committing public funds to regional air services, if he will make a statement on state aid provisions under European law in respect of public service obligations. 
Mr. Jamieson: In its 1994 guidelines on the application of state aid rules to the aviation sector (94/C 350/07), the European Commission has stated that direct operational subsidisation of air routes can in principle be accepted in the case of public service obligations (as defined in Council Regulation (EEC) No 2408/92). The Commission considers that compensation for public service obligations does not involve aid, provided that the carrier has been correctly selected through a call to tender, on the basis of the limitation of access to the route to one single carrier, and the maximum level of compensation does not exceed the amount of deficit as laid down in the bid.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the Government's plans to increase safety on rural roads. 
Mr. Jamieson: In October 2002 the Government produced their response to the Transport Select Committee Report on Road Traffic Speed. The response included work currently being undertaken and also that planned for the future to improve safety on rural roads. A copy of the response is available in the House of Commons Library or the Department for Transport's website at www.roads.dft.gov.uk/roadsafetv/index.htm.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people have been killed on rural roads in the last four years in (a) the UK, (b) the West Midlands and (c) the Coventry area. 
Mr. Jamieson: The following table shows the number of people killed in 2001 and each of the previous three years in (a) the UK, (b) the West Midlands metropolitan area, and (c) the city of Coventry, on non built-up roads with a speed limit of over 40mph.
|West Midlands metropolitan area||7||7||4||12|
|City of Coventry||0||1||2||1|
(1) Non built-up roads with a speed limit over 40mph.
(2) Includes data from Police Service Northern Ireland.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what further steps he will take to reduce speeding traffic in rural areas. 
Mr. Jamieson: Full details of the Department's work in combating the effects of excessive and inappropriate speed in rural areas can be found in the Government's response to the Transport Select Committee Report on Road Traffic Speed, published in October 2002. Copies of which can be found in the Libraries of the House.
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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) special advisers and (b) press officers have been employed by his Department in each year from 199495 to 200203; and at what cost in each year. 
Mr. Jamieson: On special advisers, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office (Mr. Alexander) on 31 January.
As regards press officers, detailed information on the numbers of permanent press officers employed in departmental press offices, including the former Department of Transport, during the financial year 199697 was provided in a memorandum dated 16 June 1998 to the Select Committee on Public Administration and published in its report on the Government Information and Communication Service (HC 770) in July 1998. A copy is in the Library of the House.
Details of costs for these years or information related to 199496, and the period between 1997 and 2002 when the Department for Transport was reformed could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
There are 18.8 permanent Press Officers (full time equivalent) currently employed in the DfT press office.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the annual salary is of the Strategic Rail Authority's Director of Media Relations. 
Mr. Jamieson: The salaries of all the Strategic Rail Authority's Executive Directors, including the Executive Director of Communications, will be published in their next Annual Report, a copy of which will placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how much the Strategic Rail Authority awarded in additional franchise payments above and beyond the franchise payments which were part of the original franchise contracts in (a) 19992000, (b) 200001 and (c) 200102; and what the forecast additional franchise payments are for (i) 200203, (b) 200304 and (iii) 200405; 
Mr. Jamieson: The contracted commitments for payments to all franchised train operators are set out by year until the end of each franchise in a table in the Strategic Rail Authority's annual reports, the latest being for 200102, copies of which are in the Library of the House. The SRA announced on 19 July 2002 that an additional £106 million in franchise payments was being made available to the Virgin group in the period until the end of March 2003 to cover the shortfall in revenue and additional costs incurred because of the delays in the upgrading of the west coast main line. To date £37 million has been drawn down from this facility. The
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SRA also announced an additional franchise payment of £58 million to Connex on 11 December 2002 to stabilise their loss making franchise during 2003.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Strategic Rail Authority evaluated the costs and benefits of operating franchises in-house before increasing subsidies to existing passenger franchise holders. 
Mr. Jamieson: Before increasing subsidies in re-negotiation of existing passenger franchises the SRA has satisfied itself that the costs of any alternative scenario would at least be equal to or greater than the proposed subsidy increase.
Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of the Strategic Rail Authority budget for 200304 has been allocated to rail freight improvements. 
Mr. Jamieson: The detail of the Strategic Rail Authority's budget for the next financial year is still being finalised.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his estimate is of the cost of theft and fraud to (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies in 2002. 
Mr. Jamieson: My Department was formed on 29 May 2002. Losses between May and December 2002 due to theft and fraud are as follows:
Assets have been valued at cost, net book value or replacement cost depending on the circumstances of the individual case. Recoveries from perpetrators or others, e.g. insurance claims, have been netted off. Some incidents are still under investigation and final values may change.
Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cases of breaches of the 20-day standstill rule are being investigated by Trading Standards Officers. 
Mr. Morley: Enforcement of breaches of the interim movements arrangements for livestock, including those under the 20-day standstill rule, is the responsibility of the relevant local authority. To date there is no central system for recording on-going investigations. This information is held locally by some 200 local authorities involved in animal movement controls.
As part of the trial of the framework agreement with the local authorities, Defra is developing a national system to record enforcement data. The pilot group of
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24 authorities represents approximately 50 per cent. of all animal movements in England and Wales. Details of breaches of the 20-day standstill rule recorded between 6 December 2002 and 29 January 2003 are as follows:
sheep and goats60.
one has received a Home Office caution;
34 are the subject of written warnings;
14 have received written advice/formal notice;
seven have been dealt with by oral advice/warning;
four required no further enforcement action; and
17 are under further investigation.
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