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25 Feb 2003 : Column 480W—continued

Rail Passenger Partnership Fund

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what level of funding under the Rail Passenger Partnership Fund is identified for transfer to regional assemblies in England. [98883]

Mr. Jamieson: The level of funding for Rail Passenger Partnership schemes that will transfer to elected regional assemblies in England has not been determined yet.

Rail Services (Scotland)

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what responsibility the Strategic Rail Authority has for rail services in Scotland. [98383]

Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority's responsibilities and its relationship with the Scottish Government are set out in the Transport Act 2000. The SRA has overall responsibility for the strategic development of the national passenger and freight railway network serving Scotland, England and Wales.

The SRA must have regard to directions and guidance from the Scottish Ministers in respect of ScotRail services, provided these are not inconsistent with its directions and guidance from the Secretary of State or its financial framework. It also takes into account non-binding advice from the Scottish Ministers in respect of cross-border passenger services provided by non-Scottish franchises.

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The SRA is working closely with the Scottish Executive on the replacement process for the current ScotRail franchise, which ends in 2004. The SRA must seek the consent of the Scottish Ministers before awarding the franchise.

Railway Standards and Safety Board

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which organisation is managing the recruitment of the senior staff for the Railway Standards and Safety Board; and who is chairing the selection committee. [98340]

Mr. Jamieson: Network Rail is managing the recruitment process for the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Rail Safety and Standards Board on behalf of the industry. The selection committee will decide who its chair will be.

Speed Limits

Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects the proposed new national guidance on speed limits to be published. [99051]

Mr. Jamieson: Guidance on the setting of speed limits already exists in the form of Circular Roads 1/93. This remains good advice but we recognise the need to update it. Work currently under way which will feed into a review, is planned for the latter part of this year.

Strategic Rail Authority

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many consultants the SRA employs; and what specialities they cover. [98403]

Mr. Jamieson: Since 1 April 2002 the Strategic Rail Authority has employed the services of 95 consultancy firms with expenditure valued above £25,000. The work procured covers a wide range of subjects, including legal, financial, technical and IT services. Information regarding the work procured valued at under £25,000 is not readily available.

Traffic Lights

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to encourage local authorities to introduce traffic lights based on light emitting diodes. [98028]

Mr. Jamieson: It is widely recognised that light emitting diode (LED) traffic signals potentially offer good optical performance combined with high reliability and good energy efficiency. A number of LED traffic signals are available for local authorities to purchase and install. Some authorities are installing them, in spite of the significantly higher prices of these signals over conventional filament lamp types. Energy cost savings go some way to offsetting the price difference but there is still a major financial commitment if LED signals are used.

LED traffic signals are still relatively new and we expect there to be improvements in their specifications generally, including reliability and power consumption, and lower prices as product designs improve. As a result,

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authorities may, not unreasonably, be waiting to see these demonstrated before committing to large-scale purchase.

As there is a competitive market for light emitting diode signals, with at least five manufacturers supplying them, and in view of the above, I do not believe specific incentives are required to encourage their use.

Transport 10-year Plan

Jon Cruddas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will announce the terms of reference of the review of his 10 year transport plan referred to in the Sustainable Communities Plan. [98619]

Mr. Jamieson: The 10 year plan for transport published in 2000 set out the intention to review the plan periodically "to ensure that the Plan continues to provide the most cost-effective and efficient means of delivering our transport strategy and that it takes account of new pressures and developments". The report on progress towards delivery of the Government's 10 year plan for transport, published last December, confirmed that we will be conducting such a review to consider with Spending Review 2004. That review will take account of the progress made so far and the challenges that have to be met in the period up to 2015 and beyond.



Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what level of interference with asbestos is required to meet the definition that a person has disturbed asbestos for the purposes of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002; and if he will make a statement. [98665]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Asbestos has been disturbed if asbestos fibres have been released. The types of work that would do this include, for example, drilling holes with power tools and sawing or sanding material. Working near asbestos-containing material may disturb it if it is in poor condition for instance knocking against the material. To assess whether asbestos will be disturbed the type of material, location, extent, accessibility, amount of damage and deterioration (and if it is sealed in) all need to be considered.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether it is the Government's policy that asbestos should be removed only as a last resort; what assessment he has made of whether the availability of 150 per relief on the removal of asbestos has led to asbestos being removed unnecessarily; and if he will make a statement. [98686]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Government's policy is that asbestos in good condition that will not be disturbed is safe to leave in place providing it is properly managed. HSE has no evidence that 150 per cent. tax relief, which applies only to the regeneration of derelict buildings to remove asbestos, is an inducement. The Government will keep the position regarding tax relief under review.

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Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what inquiries he has instituted into (a) the collapse of ASW and (b) the effect of the collapse upon the pension schemes of the Company's employees; and if he will make a statement on the Government's response to the situation. [94897]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 31 January 2003]: As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, stated in a written answer given to the hon. Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Yeo) on 7 January 2003, Official Report, columns 144–45W, the Minister of State for Employment Relations, Industry and the Regions looked at ASW's difficulties in July last year when he tried to find a way to resolve them and enable the company to continue to trade.

Ministers have also met members of the Allied Steel and Wire (ASW) Action Groups' and their constituency MPs, to discuss the Groups' concerns about the Cardiff and Sheerness pension schemes.

On 15 October 2002, the Minister for Pensions and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury met with hon. Members for Sittingbourne and Sheppey and Cardiff, West, and members of the ASW Pensions Action Group. A number of practical ways forward were identified, including an undertaking by the Minister for Pensions to discuss the issues raised with colleagues across Government. Also, a number of technical pension issues were raised on the process of winding up, which the Minister subsequently resolved with the group.

Following an adjournment debate about ASW on 16 October, the Minister for Pensions arranged a meeting between the hon. Members for Sittingbourne and Sheppey and Cardiff West, the Occupational Regulatory Authority (Opra) and one of his officials to discuss the MPs' concerns about the length of time it can take to wind up a pension scheme and other pensions issues.

Benefit Claims

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people are claiming (a) unemployment related and (b) sickness related benefits in each (i) local authority and (ii) parliamentary constituency in Wales. [96271]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The information is in the tables.

Unitary authorityNumber of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance August 20021Number of people of working age claiming sickness related benefits August 2002
Total Wales46,900218,700
Anglesey, Isle of1,5004,300
Blaenau Gwent1,8008,100
Merthyr Tydfil1,2007,600
Neath Port Talbot2,30014,300
Rhondda, Cynon, Taff3,50024,800
The Vale of Glamorgan1,9006,200
Torfaen1 ,4008,400

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ParliamentaryconstituencyNumber of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance August 2002(44)Number of people of working age claiming sickness related benefits August 2002
Total Wales46,900218,700
Alyn and Deeside1,1003,500
Blaenau Gwent1,8008,100
Brecon and Radnorshire8003,900
Cardiff, Central1,6004,400
Cardiff, North7002,400
Cardiff, South and Penarth2,0006,700
Cardiff, West1,7006,200
East Carmarthen and Dinefwr8005,300
West Carmarthen and South Pembrokeshire1,2004,200
Clwyd, South9004,600
Clwyd, West9004,000
Cynon Valley1,0007,200
Meirionnydd Nant Conwy6001,700
Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney1,5009,800
Newport, East1,3004,600
Newport, West1,7005,300
Preseli Pembrokeshire1,3004,400
Swansea, East1,5006,900
Swansea, West1,5005,900
Vale of Clwyd9005,100
Vale of Glamorgan1,5004,900
Ynys Môn 1,5004,300

(44) Later information is available for unemployment benefits, but August 2002 data have been provided in order to give figures comparable with the latest figures available for sickness related benefits.


1. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.

2. Sickness related benefits are Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance and Income Support with a Disability Premium.

3. Sickness related benefit figures are based on a 5 per cent. sample, and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling variation.


Unemployment benefits: Count of claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance, Jobcentre Plus computer systems.

Sickness related benefits: Client Group Analysis of DWP Information Centre 5 per cent. statistical samples.

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