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18 Dec 2003 : Column 1006W—continued

Equitable Life

23. Sandra Gidley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on Equitable Life. [144738]

Ruth Kelly: Equitable Life's most recent interim accounts, which reflected its position as at 30 June 2003, confirmed that it remained solvent. However, the interim accounts also refer to the fact that it continues to face fundamental uncertainties over its mis-selling liabilities and, like all market participants, has had to operate in difficult economic conditions.

Health Care Funding

24. Mr. David: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received about the funding of healthcare through (a) charges and (b) private medical insurance. [144739]

Mr. Boateng: We have met BUPA and others to hear representations on private medical insurance. The Government believe that the best way to fund healthcare is through general taxation and that delivery of healthcare should be on the basis of clinical need not ability to pay.

International Finance Facility

David Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the proposed conditionalities to be applied to the proposed International Finance Facility. [144740]

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John Healey: The International Finance Facility would not impose new conditions on recipient countries.

Child Benefit (Scotland)

John Barrett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people receive Child Benefit in Scotland, broken down by (a) parliamentary constituency and (b) local authority area. [144528]

Ruth Kelly: The latest available figures, for November 2002, are shown in a table which is being placed in the Library. Recent annual changes in the number of families in Scotland with Child Benefit awards have been very small.

Foreign Debt

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to set up a realisation fund for outstanding Export Credits Guarantee Department debt. [144835]

Mr. Boateng: The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry informed the House of progress towards establishing the Export Credits Guarantee Department as a Trading Fund on 22 July 2002. Details of the structure of the Trading Fund will be set out in a public consultation document ahead of the move to Trading Fund status.

Progressive Governance Conference

Sue Doughty: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total cost to public funds was of the Progressive Governance Conference hosted by the United Kingdom in July. [140566]

Mr. MacShane: I have been asked to reply.

The Progressive Governance Conference from 11 to 13 July was organised and paid for by the think-tank Policy Network.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) organised the subsequent Summit on 13 and 14 July for the heads of state or government of 14 countries. The final cost of organising the Summit was £251,929. This was met by the FCO. This excludes costs for policing.


Airlines (Disciplinary Action)

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on how many occasions disciplinary action has been taken against airlines for (a) breach of aircraft noise arrival and departure regulations and (b) failure to follow preferred routes into and from Belfast City Airport in each of the last three years. [144601]

Mr. McNulty: Noise and track-keeping procedures applicable at Belfast City Airport are a matter for local control by the Airport. The Department for Transport does not hold the information requested, which should be available direct from Belfast City Airport.

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Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made against the EU target for biofuels to reach two per cent. of the petrol and diesel market by December 2005. [144771]

Mr. Jamieson: The EU Biofuels Directive (2003/30/EC) requires member states to set indicative targets for sales of biofuels for 2005 and 2010, and provides reference values of 2 per cent. and 5.75 per cent. respectively. Member states must report to the Commission by 1 July 2004, indicating the level of their national indicative targets for 2005.

Current sales of biofuels in the UK are around two million litres a month, which is approximately 0.05 per cent. of the transport fuels market. This represents a dramatic increase since the position prior to July 2002, when the 20 pence per litre fuel duty incentive for biodiesel came into effect.

The Department for Transport will be consulting in early 2004 on its plans for implementing the Directive.

British Transport Police

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what additional money has been given to the British Transport Police in this financial year for their duties under the Terrorism Act 2000. [145133]

Mr. McNulty: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given today [144178].

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what additional resources have been made available to the British Transport Police to take on anti-terrorist responsibilities since 2001. [144178]

Mr. McNulty: The resources available to the British Transport Police (BTP) are a matter for the BTP Committee, which overseas the Force and sets its budget. The rail industry is responsible for providing the necessary funding for the Force. In addition to this funding Government has agreed to provide the BTP in 2003–04 with an additional £1.5 million for anti-terrorist response vehicles in London.

Speed Cameras (East Anglia)

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many speed cameras there were in (a) Suffolk, (b) Cambridgeshire, (c) Norfolk and (d) Essex, in each year since 1997; and what amount of revenue was raised in each of those counties. [143348]

Mr. Jamieson: Before the safety camera netting off trial began in April 2000 local authorities were not obliged to inform central government about their camera activity. Essex have netted off since 2000 and Cambridgeshire and Norfolk since 2001. The number of camera sites (both fixed and mobile) for each is:


Suffolk joined the scheme in April 2003. During the 2003–2004 financial year Suffolk's plans are to install 5 new fixed site camera housings in addition to their existing 3 and will be enforcing 41 sites with mobile camera units.

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Receipts from conditional offer fixed penalty fines for the latest audited years were:



Mr. Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make an announcement on the route for the A21 South of Pembury to Flimwell before Parliament rises on 18 December 2003. [144449]

Mr. Jamieson: An announcement will be made following full consideration. The Highways Agency is developing proposals for the section of the A21 between Kippings Cross and Lamberhurst. This area is particularly sensitive in environmental terms and it is important to achieve a balance between the impact on the environment and the impact on those living beside the existing route. I hope to make an announcement early in the New Year following further discussions with colleagues in the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

The Highways Agency has not yet started looking at the Lamberhurst to Flimwell section of the A21 and the Lamberhurst bypass is currently under construction.


Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what financial support is available from Government to assist returning the stretch of the A421, proposed to be de-trunked around Great Barford, Bedfordshire, following the construction of a by-pass, to its rural character. [144820]

Mr. Jamieson: Once de-trunking of the stretch of the A421 at Great Barford, Bedfordshire, has taken place, management becomes the responsibility of Bedfordshire County Council. They will be able to apply through the Local Transport Plan process for funding of any works they feel necessary to reflect the changed character of the road.


Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what further developments are planned to improve the safety and capacity of junctions on the stretch of the A43 between junction 15A of the M1 and junction 10 of the M40. [144480]

Mr. Jamieson: I have asked the Chief Executive of Highways Agency, Mr. Archie Robertson, to write to the hon. Member.

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Letter from Archie Robertson to Mr. Tim Boswell, dated 18 December 2003:

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