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26 May 2004 : Column 1624W—continued

Seasonal Fruit Pickers

Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what monitoring takes place to ensure that seasonal fruit pickers are not paid below the minimum wage. [175442]

Alun Michael: Seasonal fruit pickers are entitled to be paid at least the appropriate Agricultural Minimum Wage set by the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales, for each hour they work. Payment of the Agricultural Minimum Wage is enforced by Defra officials of behalf of the Secretary of State. Enforcement activity is complaint led and workers can register a complaint about their pay by telephoning the Defra Agricultural Wages Team on 0845 0000 134.

Pay rates in agriculture are surveyed on a sample basis through the Defra Earnings and Hours Survey. This survey is conducted on a quarterly basis and a summary of results is available on the Defra website (


Contingency Planning

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the mobile phones and walkie-talkie communications units issued to emergency personnel who would be called upon to deal with a terrorist incident on the London Underground have the capability to work underground. [175081]

Mr. McNulty: British Transport Police (BTP) are responsible for policing on London Underground and would be amongst the first to respond to a terrorist incident on the Underground network. BTP officers have two hand-held radios, one for below ground and one for above.

Metropolitan Police radios work on two thirds of the London Underground network. In responding to a terrorist incident, or other emergency, on the Underground, the Metropolitan Police would work closely with BTP, and most of its responsibility would be at the surface. In the event that Metropolitan Police
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officers were required to operate on the sections of the Underground network where their radios do not work, they would be able to communicate from below ground through BTP's radios. They would also receive communications support from London Underground staff.

London Fire Brigade officers carry hand-held radios that work on the London Underground by means of fixed extension aerials in place in all deep level Underground stations. If required to work underground in environments where such fixed aerials are not installed, London Fire Brigade officers are able to deploy portable cable aerials enabling the radios to operate underground.

All London Ambulance Service command vehicles carry portable cable aerials enabling London Ambulance Service radios to operate on the London Underground and other below ground environments.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans there are to provide training for all public transport workers in case of a serious emergency. [174680]

Mr. McNulty: This is primarily a matter for each operator. London Underground, the rail and bus industries have already circulated advice to all front line staff. In addition, the Department requires London Underground to have contingency plans to deal with situations that could effect the security of its operations. These must be accessible at all times to staff at stations, so that they are fully aware of what to do in such situations, and be exercised regularly. We have made similar recommendations to all Train Operating Companies.

Bus Services

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his assessment is of the ability of bus operators to maintain current service levels following the increase in the price of oil. [175438]

Mr. McNulty: Fuel costs represent only 6.5 per cent. of total local bus operating costs, after account is taken of support given by means of Bus Service Operators Grant, and it is not expected that recent changes in world oil prices will of themselves have a significant impact on service levels. We will however continue to monitor trends in overall bus industry costs.

Crime (Public Transport)

Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many assaults and attacks where knives or firearms were used were committed on London Underground in each year since 1997. [175459]

Mr. McNulty: The British Transport Police (BTP) have advised me that this information is not readily available and could be compiled only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many crimes involving firearms or knives were committed on (a) buses and (b) the railways in each year since 1997. [175462]

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Mr. McNulty: The British Transport Police (BTP) have advised me that this information is not readily available for crimes committed on the railways and could be compiled only at disproportionate cost. No data is held centrally regarding the number of crimes on buses since 1997 which have involved firearms or knives.

Departmental Staff

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff were employed in the Department to work in the communications field, and what the total expenditure on communications for the Department was, broken down by (a) Government Information and Communication Service staff and (b) other staff, broken down by (i) press officers, (ii) special advisors and (iii) others, in (A) 1994–95, (B) 1996–97, (C) 1997–98 and (D) 2001–02. [168677]

Mr. McNulty: (A) 17 permanent press officers, all members of the then Government Information Service (GIS), were employed by the former Department of Transport (central)'s Information Division in 1994–95. Further information for this financial year about numbers of other staff and salary costs of these and press officers is not available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

(B) Detailed information on the numbers and salary costs of permanent press officers, members of the then GIS, employed in departmental press offices, including the former Department of Transport (c) for the financial year 1996–97, was provided in a memorandum dated 16 June 1998 to the Select Committee on Public Administration and published in its report on the Government Information and Communication Service (HC 770) in July 1998 (http://www.publications. Copies are in the Libraries of the House. Information for other staff is not available in a comparable format and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. (C-D) Information for each of the financial years 1997–98 and 2001–02, when transport policy formed part of the remit of the former Departments of Environment, Transport and the Regions and Transport, Local Government and the Regions (respectively), is not available in a comparable format.

The Special Advisers' Code of Conduct sets out the sort of work a special adviser may undertake on behalf of their Minister. This can include communications activity. Details of the costs of Special Advisers are given on an annual basis.

Disabled Parking

Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 22 March 2004, Official Report, column 513W, on disabled parking, what progress has been made on (a) taking forward the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee's new recommendations, (b) revised guidance to local authorities, (c) research on the feasibility of a national database of Blue Badge holders and (d) consultation on secondary legislation for extending the scheme. [176032]

Mr. McNulty: Work is continuing across all the areas of work I outlined in my previous answer in March.
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The revised guidance that will be drawn up to explain the changes I described will be produced in draft and will form part of the public consultation that will take place on the draft regulations to extend the scheme to children under two and those with temporary disabilities. That consultation is expected later this year.

The work specification for the research on a national database is being finalised. We plan to go out to tender on that work over the summer.

Ministerial Visits

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list visits made by each Minister in the Department between December 2003 and April 2004, broken down by (a) date, (b) constituency visited and (c) cost. [171566]

Mr. McNulty: Ministerial visits on official business within the United Kingdom for the period from 1 December 2003 to 30 April 2004 are given in tables 1 to 4. The visits were not made to specific constituencies and a number of visits would involve travelling to or through more than one constituency. Details of the cost of each visit could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

The Government publishes on an annual basis the total costs of all ministerial

overseas travel and a list of all visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500. Information for 2003–04 is currently being collected and will be published as soon as it is ready.
Table 1: Visits by Secretary of State

VisitDate(s) of visit
Opening of M6 toll road, West Midlands9 December 2003
Launch of Queen Mary 2, Southampton8 January 2004
Channel Tunnel Rail Link breakthrough, Kings Cross27 October 2004
C2C/ Ford centre of excellence, Dagenham2 February 2004
Opening of train facility, Waterloo23 February 2004
Nottingham Express Tram8 March 2004
Rail Seminar, Glasgow26 March 2004
Regional visit to North East29 March 2004
Greater Anglia Launch, Liverpool Street1 April 2004
Rail Seminar, York23 April 2004
Launch of Highways Agency Traffic Officers, Birmingham26 April 2004
Rail Seminar, Cardiff28 April 2004

Table 2: Visits by Kim Howells

VisitDate(s) of visit
Regional visit to North East2 and 3 December 2003
EWS rail freight performance discussions visit , London17 December 2003
Christmas rail blockade publicity visit, Clapham Junction23 December 2003
Regional visit to North West21 and 22 April 2004
Secure Station award presentation, Hereford26 January 2004
First Great Western rail performance discussions visit, Reading4 February 2004
Regional visit to South West11 February 2004
Trevithick Celebrations—train naming, Cardiff18 February 2004
Network Rail Scotland performance discussions visit, Edinburgh7 April 2004
South West Trains—launching digital passenger information screens, Clapham Junction22 April 2004
Rail Seminar, York23 April 2004
London Underground power control room visit, central London27 April 2004
Rail Seminar, Cardiff28 April 2004

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Table 3: Visits by David Jamieson

VisitDate(s) of visit
Visit to Coventry University4 December 2003
AA Control Centre visit, Farnborough8 December 2003
Launch of Queen Mary 2, Southampton8 January 2004
Visit to Severn View "green refuelling" station, Bristol22 January 2004
'Sustainable Communities' visit, Redruth2 February 2004
Visit to Ford Plant, Southampton26 February 2004
Regional visit, Yorkshire3 March 2004
Visit to Highway Agency Office and Exeter Airport25 March 2004
RoSPA Conference, Brighton29 March 2004
DVLA Campaign, Plymouth6 March 2004
A249 Kent "sod cutting" and "Greenergy" visit, Maidstone29 March 2004

Table 4: Visits by Tony McNulty

VisitDate(s) of visit
Visit to Leaside Regeneration Ltd.—Bow Flyover redesign and infrastructure improvements4 December 2003
Opening Torquay pedestrianisation scheme8 January 2004
Visit to Thames Gateway—Stratford area in relation to transport and the Olympic bid7 January 2004
Opening Harrogate bus station and a Bus Challenge project12 January 2004
Launch of "MAVIS" Rig at Mobility Advice and Vehicle Information centre, Berks and visit to Air Accident Investigation Branch22 January 2004
Havant—Government Liveability announcement2 February 2004
Tour of Thames Gateway with South Essex partnership2 March 2004
Speech to South East Regional Assembly, Woking and visit to Government Office for the South East, Guildford3 March 2004
Launch of the Solent Travelcard, Portsmouth4 March 2004
Launch of Urban Bus Challenge project, Corby15 March 2004
Opening of Surrey's Network Management Information Centre, Leatherhead24 March 2004
Visit to Com Cab taxi company, Harrow29 March 2004
Launch of a bus fleet, Hove2 March 2004
Visit to Rural Bus Challenge scheme, Doncaster20 March 2004
Opening of public transport interchange scheme, Newcastle21 March 2004
Opening of British Transport Police mobile custody suite, Stratford, London22March 2004
Visit to an urban regeneration company and viewing of Local Transport Plan funded projects, Cornwall28 April 2004

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