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24 Feb 2004 : Column 353W—continued


Child Murders (Drugs)

Mr. Caton: To ask the Solicitor-General whether investigations into the criminal cases in which a parent has been convicted of murdering a child will include an assessment of whether (a) cisapride and (b) other drugs contributed to the deaths. [153753]

The Solicitor-General: Since the release of Angela Cannings by the Court of Appeal and its published judgment, the Attorney-General has instigated a number of measures. A total of 258 convictions over the last 10 years for the murder, manslaughter or infanticide of a child under two by its parent have been identified. Of those, a total of 72 relate to persons still serving a custodial sentence. These will be accorded the utmost priority. Currently, some 365 boxes of evidence relating to 52 high profile cases have been recovered from central storage and dispatched to CPS areas for them to conduct an initial review. The remaining high profile cases are being recovered from the areas themselves.

With the help of the Interdepartmental Group a system of review has been established. Each individual case will first be subject to a preliminary review by the relevant CPS Area to identify its key characteristics. Each case will then be reviewed by a central review team to establish whether any features identified by the Court of Appeal in Angela Cannings' judgment make the conviction potentially unsafe. As the review proceeds, the issues in each case will become clearer and the review team will be alert for any factors, including drugs, which were held to have contributed towards the death of an infant.



Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what is being done to raise levels of internet usage among those sectors of the population whose usage is under the national average, with particular reference to the (a) 55 to 64 and (b) 65 and over age groups. [155264]

Mr. Alexander: Opportunities to physically access the internet are now pervasive for all age-groups. Research by the Oxford Internet Institute has found that 96 per cent. of the population are aware of a place where they could get online.

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For those, like some older people, who may need additional support to get online there is a network of over 6,000 UK online centres which offer community-based internet access and training at low or no cost. Last year the 'Get Started' campaign aimed to drive up internet use among key groups such as the elderly, those with disabilities and the unemployed. Of those who responded, 37 per cent. were over 65 and 45 per cent. were retired.

In addition on 15 December 2003 the Government announced a Digital Inclusion Panel which will advise Government and industry on how to ensure a digitally United Kingdom. Digital connectivity among older age-groups will be one

area to be reviewed.

Better Regulation

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will list executive board members appointed to promote better regulation, broken down by department; and what their respective private sector experience is in each case. [155277]

Mr. Alexander: As of 1 February 2004, the network of departmental board level members for better regulation consisted of:

Board member
Margaret AldredHome Office
Alan DaveyDepartment for Culture, Media and Sport
Karen DunnellOffice for National Statistics
Eddie FrizzellScottish Executive
Paul GrayDepartment for Work and Pensions
Stephen HaddrillDepartment of Trade and Industry
Mike HansonHM Customs and Excise
Dave HartnettBoard of Inland Revenue
Donald McraeDepartment for Environment, Food and Rural affairs
Peter MakehamDepartment for Education and Skills
Willy RickettDepartment for Transport
James SassoonHM Treasury
Jonathan SpencerDepartment of Constitutional Affairs
Richard StaggForeign and Commonwealth Office
Pat StewartFood Standards Agency
Hugh TaylorDepartment of Health
Peter UnwinOffice of the Deputy Prime Minister
Jane WillisHealth and Safety Executive
Baroness Young of Old SconeEnvironment Agency

These senior departmental nominees draw on a wide range of experience in advising within their organisation on private sector, public sector and European regulatory issues.



Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to upgrade the A35 between Dorchester and Honiton. [155299]

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Mr. Jamieson: There are no current plans for significant upgrading of the A35 between Dorchester and Honiton.

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to improve (a) traffic flow and (b) road safety at Raymond's Hill on the A35. [155300]

Mr. Jamieson: The Highways Agency substantially completed a safety improvement scheme at Raymond's Hill last year, which includes new signs, red anti-skid surfacing and two traffic islands. It will prevent overtaking through the junction, help traffic entering or crossing the trunk road and assist pedestrians crossing the road. A reduction of the speed limit to 40 mph is also planned and this proposal has recently been advertised.

The new scheme will have limited effect on traffic flow but should make a significant improvement to road safety. Its impact will be monitored to see if further measures are necessary.


Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) when he will set a date for the resurfacing of the A404 Marlow by-pass; [155068]

Mr. Darling: The A404 Marlow Bypass is currently in a satisfactory condition as far as safety is concerned and is not expected to require resurfacing within the next few years. As a result, no date has yet been set.

However, I can confirm that the A404 Marlow Bypass meets the criteria announced on 22 March 1999 for consideration for remedial action on environmental grounds to reduce noise pollution.

Aviation Security

Jim Dowd: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions his Department has had with counterparts in the Transport Safety Authority of the US Administration concerning matters of aviation security. [155221]

Mr. McNulty: Departmental officials are in very regular contact with their opposite numbers in the US Transportation Security Administration, about a range of aviation security matters.

Central Railway

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will investigate the disclosure to the Sunday Telegraph of the Strategic Rail Authority's latest study of the Central Railway proposal; and if he will make a statement. [155242]

Mr. McNulty: It is not the Department's practice to comment on such matters.


Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will list for each local authority the financial support given by the Department to support cycling proficiency tests in 2003–04; [155868]

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Mr. Jamieson: Local authorities fund cycle training from within their overall resources for transport. We do not hold data centrally on how many cycling proficiency tests are undertaken.

The Government are supportive of cycle training and our research has shown that it is effective, with trained children found to be significantly safer than untrained children when knowledge and skills were tested two years after training. We want to see an increase in the level, and improvement in the quality, of cycle training for children.

The Department has been working closely with a number of groups to develop cycle training. With our support 'Guidelines for the management and Operation of Practical Cyclist Training Schemes' were revised and published by RoSPA in June 2000. In July 2001 the Department for Transport and the Department of Health gave grant funding amounting to £76,000 to the Cyclist Touring Club to run a three-year project to develop a cycle training scheme for adults and teenagers. This led to the development of the publication, "Adult Cycle Training—A Guide for Instructors and Organisers", which was launched in May 2003 and sent to all road safety officers. We are also working with a group of cycle training experts to develop a new National Standard for child cyclist training. This will be piloted in schools from April, with a view to a launch later in the year.


Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport who pays the minimum usage charge paid to Eurotunnel. [154910]

Mr. McNulty: The Minimum Usage Charge (MUC) is a top-up mechanism that assures Eurotunnel of a minimum income from Eurostar and rail freight services for the first 12 years of commercial operations. It is a contractual commitment to Eurotunnel by the French and UK railways currently operating through the Tunnel. For the UK, Eurostar UK Ltd. is responsible for all payments relating to passenger services, and the Strategic Rail Authority currently makes the payments for freight services. On the French side, the payments are made by SNCF.

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