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10 Nov 2003 : Column 13W—continued



Mr. Collins: To ask the Prime Minister which Department will answer the letter from the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale to him of 21 October concerning the proposed closure of the Holehird Leonard Cheshire home for the disabled in Windermere; and when it will do so. [137920]

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Health will be replying to the letter this week.

GM Trials

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Prime Minister what response he has made to the letter sent to him by 114 United Kingdom scientists relating to GM trials. [137703]

The Prime Minister: I strongly believe that science and technology are vital to our country's future prosperity. As a government, we need to ensure that the UK continues to be one of the top countries in the world for scientific research.

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I read the letter from Professor Burke and others with interest. In light of this, I have responded to the letter re-iterating that this government's approach is to make decisions on GM crops on the basis of sound science. The reason why we have not yet made a formal response to the results of the farm-scale evaluations is that we are waiting to hear the assessment of the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment, which we expect to receive around the end of this year.

Government Prospectus

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Prime Minister (1) when the Government will publish a prospectus setting out its progress and the challenges facing the country; [134538]

The Prime Minister: The prospectus will be a Labour Party publication. Individual departments account for their progress annually and regularly publish consultation documents on policy issues that are funded by those departments.

Kenny Richey

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Prime Minister if he intends to make representations for clemency to the President of the United States in the event that the appeal on behalf of Mr. Kenny Richey to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is unsuccessful. [136816]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State gave him today.


Serious Fraud Office

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General for what reasons the Serious Fraud Office did not initiate an investigation into whether payments made by a firm whose name has been communicated to her were authorised in the UK. [135892]

The Solicitor-General: If the hon. Member will write to me, outlining in full his concerns, I should be happy to provide him with a substantive reply.


Foreign-registered Lorries

Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many foreign-registered lorries used British roads in the last 12 months. [136187]

Mr. Jamieson: During the 12 months ending June 2003, the latest period for which figures are available, foreign-registered lorries made 1.4 million trips to Great Britain. However, the number of vehicles was much less than this because individual lorries may make more than one trip.

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Lime Street Station

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects the negotiations on Network Rail taking operational control of Lime Street station to be concluded. [137113]

Mr. McNulty: This is an operational matter for Network Rail. At this stage there is nothing further I can add to my answer of 4 November 2003, Official Report, column 540W, to my hon. Friend.

Montreal Convention

Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to amend the Montreal Convention by substituting (a) incident for accident and (b) personal injury for bodily injury. [136998]

Mr. McNulty: Under the terms of the international 1999 Montreal Convention, in the case of death or injury to passengers airlines are strictly liable for claims up to 100,000 SDKs, and may be exonerated only from higher claims if they can prove absence of negligence.

Within such a regime it would be inappropriate to broaden the scope of airline liability by substituting (a) incident for accident or (b) personal injury for bodily injury, and I have no plans to propose amendments to the Convention.

Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will press the European Union not to ratify the Montreal Protocol until airline liability is extended to include the health of air passengers. [136999]

Mr. McNulty: No. In the interests of airline passengers we look forward to the ratification of the Montreal Convention by the Community and by the member states as soon as possible.

National Rail Training Centre

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to set up a National Rail Training Centre; and if he will make a statement. [137124]

Mr. McNulty: The Centre for Rail Skills was established in July 2003 as the industry-wide training organisation. The CfRS does not itself provide training courses but is responsible for co-ordinating and facilitating them. This training takes place across the whole of the rail industry and throughout the country and is therefore delivered at a wide range of venues rather than from a single location.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act

Brian White: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what statutory investigatory powers the Department has; which ones will be superseded by use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000; and what plans he has for removing these legacy powers. [136125]

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Mr. McNulty: The Department for Transport is responsible for the following statutory investigatory powers:

The Department for Transport does not have any statutory investigatory powers that would be superseded by the use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 or plans to amend or repeal any of its powers to that end. The above powers will continue to be used to compel the necessary and proportionate production of information, other than communications data, for the purposes described above. The draft Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Communications Data) Order would give access to communications data to selected officers of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for the purposes of protecting public safety and preventing and detecting maritime crime.

Powers under section 259(2)(k) the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 to compel people to assist the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will be retained as they are used for other purposes not relating to accessing communications data. If the draft Order is enacted, these powers will not be used or attempted to be used for obtaining communications data.

Road Safety

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research his Department (a) has carried out and (b) has collated on the effect on the risk of collision of (i) hand-held and (ii) hands-free mobile phone use when driving. [137182]

Mr. Jamieson: The Department commissioned the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents to review the relevant research on the use of any mobile phone while driving. The report, was published in 2001 and is available on-line at:

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with representatives of police forces concerning the enforcement of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No 4) Regulations 2003; and if he will make a statement. [137183]

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Mr. Jamieson: The Department consulted representative police organisations prior to making the new regulation introducing an offence of using a hand-held mobile phone when driving. Enforcement will be a matter for the police.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to publicise the new regulations concerning the use of mobile phones when driving. [137184]

Mr. Jamieson: My Department is publicising the new hand-held mobile phone legislation in a number of ways:

The Department is also re-iterating the dangers of driver distraction surrounding the use of all mobiles phones, focusing on the simple message "Switch off before you drive off" in the following ways:

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to publish further guidance regarding the new regulations on the use of mobile phones when driving, in addition to the guidance on the Department for Transport website. [137185]

Mr. Jamieson: The Department's advice leaflet on mobile phones and driving has been updated to take account of the new regulations and the text was recently added to the THINK Road Safety site at www. Printed copies (product code T/INF/885) will shortly be available free of charge from the Department's distribution centre, telephone 0870 122 6236.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many children under 16 (a) received a serious head injury as a result of a cycling accident and (b) died in each of the last 10 years. [136423]

Dr. Ladyman: I have been asked to reply.

The available information is shown in the tables.

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Financial yearNumber of admissions of children under 16

Due to changes in coding methodology it is only possible to provide the last seven years of data.

Calendar yearDeaths from head injuries in cyclistsAll deathsin cyclists

Data for 2001 and 2002 may not be directly comparable to those for previous years, due to changes in coding methodology in 2001. The figures should therefore be interpreted with caution.

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