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29 Jun 2004 : Column 182W—continued

Legal Aid

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what plans the Department has for reducing the proportion of the legal aid budget expended on very high cost cases. [180756]

Mr. Lammy: The Legal Services Commission introduced a scheme for managing very high cost criminal cases in 2001 with the aim of bringing expenditure in this area under better control. We have recently been discussing changes with the Bar Council and others to make the scheme workable and minimise bureaucratic burdens and we have proposed some changes to this effect. The Bar Council has reacted in a positive way. Notwithstanding these changes, the scheme will still deliver its aims of better cost control, and will help mitigate the rate of inflation in this area of business and thus reduce pressures on other aspects of the legal aid budget.

The Fundamental Legal Aid Review is looking at how a finite budget can be better targeted at those most in need which includes studying cost drivers in very high cost cases and will make recommendations by the end of the year.
 
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Lord Chancellor

Mr. Amess: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs when the Department expects the post of Lord Chancellor to be abolished; and if he will make a statement. [180759]

Mr. Leslie: Subject to the wishes of Parliament the office of Lord Chancellor will be abolished once the relevant provisions of the Constitutional Reform Bill, and other necessary measures, have been brought into effect.

Postal Voting

Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what plans the Department has to extend trials of postal voting during the next general election. [180762]

Mr. Leslie: None.

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many individual electors with special needs were assisted in voting through domiciliary visits by electoral staff in each of the four postal pilot areas on 10 June. [180786]

Mr. Leslie: This information is not held centrally. The Electoral Commission has a statutory duty to produce an evaluation of the pilots. This report must take into consideration the evaluation criteria specified in section 4 of the European Parliamentary and Local Elections (Pilots) Act 2004. I understand that this report will assess the accessibility of the pilot elections for those with special needs.

Refurbishing Costs

Mr. Alan Duncan: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what costs were incurred by the Department and its predecessors in refurbishing the departmental estate in each financial year since 1996–97. [180318]

Mr. Leslie: The departmental estate is comprised of the headquarters offices (Selborne House, Southside, Millbank, Chancery Lane, Conquest, Steel and Clive House) and 372 regional buildings, which are mostly court and tribunal premises.

The expenditure can be broken down as follows:

Financial Year
Cost of refurbishment and maintenance (£ million)
1996–9724.3
1997–9823.5
1998–9924.4
1999–200027.9
2000–0127.4
2001–0218.8
2002–0319.1
2003–0426.5

TRANSPORT

Aircraft Emissions (Education)

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to educate the public about the environmental consequences of increased emissions from aircraft. [179925]


 
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Mr. McNulty: The extensive national consultation exercise leading up to the Government's recent Air Transport White Paper gave prominence to the environmental impacts of the growth of air transport. In addition public debate will be stimulated by the Governments commitment to including aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Defra has previously carried out a national campaign, aimed at heightening awareness of personal impact upon climate change though lifestyle choices, and continues do so across a number of fields.

British Transport Police

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action his Department is taking to cover the deficit in the British Transport Police Pension Fund shown in the December 2002 valuation; and if he will make a statement. [181001]

Mr. McNulty: It is currently for the SRA as employer of the British Transport Police, the Management Committee of the Fund, and the corporate pension trustee to agree how to address the deficit. From 1 July 2004 the employer responsibility will be passed to the new British Transport Police Authority. A revaluation of the Fund is to be carried out with effect from 30 June 2004. The results will not be known for some months.

Freight Transport

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much tonnage of goods was lifted by (a) road and (b) rail in each year since 1997. [181495]

Dr. Howells: The information is as follows:
Goods lifted by road and rail in Great Britain: 1997 to 2003
Million tonnes

RoadRail 1
19971,740105
19981,727102
19991,661(10)92
20001,68995
20011,66094
20021,70887
2003(11)l,72589


(9) Rail figures are for financial years ie 1997–98 etc.
(10) Rail figures from 1999 are not directly comparable with previous data due to a change in methodology.
(11) Provisional.
Source:
Department for Transport (road); Strategic Rail Authority (rail).



Rail Service (North-West)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the future of (a) freight and (b) passenger trains to Europe from the North West. [180720]

Mr. McNulty: Current arrangements for cross-Channel freight services derive from the contract between Eurotunnel, British Railways Board and SNCF. As required by section 206 of the Transport Act 2000, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) is developing a regional Channel Tunnel strategy for passenger and
 
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freight services. The SRA's proposals will have to take account of the business plan expected to be produced shortly by the Eurotunnel Board.

Road Safety

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) deaths and (b) serious injuries there were on the roads of Tamworth constituency in each of the last 10 years. [179961]

Mr. Jamieson: The information currently available relates to local authorities. The following table shows the number of deaths and serious injuries there were on the roads of the Tamworth local authority for the last 10 years for which data are available. Estimates on the basis of parliamentary constituencies will be prepared in the summer. I shall write to the hon. Member when figures are available and place a copy of my letter in the Libraries of the House.
Road deaths and serious injuries in Tamworth local authority 1993–2002

KilledSerious injuries
1993120
1994134
1995117
1996017
1997219
1998015
1999015
2000310
2001211
2002021
Total10179

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking towards meeting the goals of (a) a 40 per cent. reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents and (b) a 50 per cent. reduction in children killed or seriously injured in road accidents by 2010. [180303]

Mr. Jamieson: Our road safety strategy—"Tomorrow's roads—safer for everyone"—published in March 2000, set out the framework for delivering further improvements in road safety over the decade to 2010. It contains more than 150 measures across 10 themes with a key focus on better education, better engineering and better enforcement.

A number of these measures have already been, or are being, implemented with the active involvement of many stakeholders across Britain both within and outside Government. "Road Casualties Great Britain 2003: Main Results" published on 24 June 2004 shows that total deaths or serious injuries in 2003 were 22 per cent. below the 1994–98 baseline average; over half way towards our 40 per cent. target by 2010. Child deaths or serious injuries were down 40 per cent.; over three-quarters of the way towards our 50 per cent. target by 2010.

The strategy included a commitment to formally review progress every three years. The first review published in April 2004 concluded that we are on track to deliver the challenging casualty reduction targets, while highlighting some areas requiring continuing
 
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attention. These areas are being given special focus as we continue to develop the strategy as new ideas and technology emerge.


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