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10 Mar 2003 : Column 55W—continued

Strategic Rail Authority

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the funding of the special purpose vehicle projects being pursued by the Strategic Rail Authority; and if he will list the companies with which the Strategic Rail Authority is negotiating regarding SPV projects. [101183]

Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority is developing its model for procurement of projects, including those in which SPVs may play a role, in discussion with Network Rail. Projects are under preparation but are not yet at the negotiating stage.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what budget (a) resource, (b) capital and (c) in total has been provided by his Department to the Strategic Rail Authority in each year since it has been in operation, including in its shadow form, and projected to 2004–05 (i) at out-turn prices and (ii) at today's prices. [95570]

Mr. Jamieson: The table provides the information requested, for the years from 1999–2000 to 2004–05.

£ million

Outturn prices
2002–03 prices

From 1 April 2003 capital grants to the private sector will be classified as resource instead of capital. This is why the figures in the resource column increase from 2003–04 onwards. In 2003–04 and 2004–05, the negative capital figures reflect the fact that the main capital item is income from property sales.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether any specific liabilities of the Strategic Rail Authority, beyond those detailed in his Minutes to Parliament of 27 June 2002, are comprised within the comfort letter proposed to be issued to the Strategic Rail Authority, as set out in the Secretary of State's Minute of 3 February; [98960]

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Mr. Jamieson: The contingent liabilities notified to Parliament on 27 June 2002 were in respect of the SRA's specific obligations for the support arrangements for Network Rail. These included support for the Bridge Facility, the KfW facility, the EEB facility, and the legacy working capital facility. The SRA comfort letter notified to Parliament on 3 February 2003 covers the generality of the SRA's financial obligations, and therefore covers, inter alia, the specific obligations notified in June.

It is not possible to quantify or limit the contingent liabilities in respect of the SRA comfort letter beyond the provisos set out in the letter, especially at paragraphs 9 to 11. The SRA is required to operate within its agreed budget and financial framework.

Any new contingent liabilities in respect of the SRA, or any significant changes to the nature or size of existing contingent liabilities, will be notified to Parliament in accordance with Government Accounting. Under UK

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accounting standards, a liability is defined as contingent if it is dependent on uncertain future events or is not likely to be called. Contingent liabilities do not score as public sector debt.

The Minute accompanying the proposed SRA comfort letter summarises the Secretary of State's statutory powers to finance the SRA. In particular it notes the Secretary of State's opinion that he has no legal power to guarantee the performance of the SRA's financial obligations apart from the provision in Schedule 14 of the Transport Act 2000 in respect of temporary borrowing by the SRA from another person. Temporary borrowing is intended to cover borrowing such as by way of overdraft or bridging facility, where moneys are not intended to be advanced on a long-term basis .

There are currently no such guarantees from public funds for any temporary borrowing by the SRA. If any such guarantees were to be given by the Secretary of State, or where any sum were to be paid out in fulfilling a guarantee, then notification to each House of Parliament is required in accordance with the provisions of the Transport Act 2000.

The statement in paragraph 12 of the SRA comfort letter, that it does not create legal obligations, reflects the legal position in respect of that letter. It is compatible with the statement of the Secretary of State's current intentions in paragraph 11 of the comfort letter.

Trafficmaster Detectors

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether Trafficmaster detectors on motorways and trunk roads are equipped with lenses capable of reading vehicle registration numbers; and if he will make a statement. [101382]

Mr. Jamieson: The Trafficmaster units on the motorway and trunk road network use two types of detector. The model using an infrared beam is not fitted with lenses. The other type incorporates a camera that reads vehicle registration marks.

To preserve privacy, equipment at the roadside removes the first and last characters of each number plate read by the cameras. The remaining characters are

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encrypted and processed to create a unique Identifier which is used to calculate the average speed of a batch of vehicles. No other information about a vehicle is recorded, and after two hours, the Identifiers are discarded.



Mr. Flight: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost has been of British operations in Afghanistan in each month since operations began. [101281]

Mr. Ingram: The monthly totals for 2001–02 are as follows.

£ million

I regret that since 2002–03 figures have not been audited, it might be misleading for me to provide that information on a monthly basis until the NAO audit has been completed. The forecast annual cost is £376 million.

Anthrax Immunisation

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces offered voluntary immunisation against anthrax received the vaccine at (a) zero weeks, (b) three weeks, (c) six weeks and (d) six months into the course; what percentage of the total offered vaccination this represents; and if he will break down these figures by service. [99363]

Dr. Moonie: Up to 12 February 2003, the period for which most recent figures are available, the data requested are as follows:

Royal Navy (including Royal Marines)3,5811,34638
Royal Air Force8,5723,84044
Other (including Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Joint NEC Regiment and civilians)1,16056949

Immunisation against anthrax is recorded in an individual's medical records when it is administered. However, it takes time for copies of these details to be passed back to Ministry of Defence and entered into central records, hence these figures do not include personnel most recently included in the programme. We are confident that a majority of personnel now deploying to the Gulf will opt to receive immunisation against anthrax, and expect take-up to improve further as the programme expands. Up-to-date information on second, third and subsequent immunisations could be only provided at disproportionate cost.

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