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2 Nov 2004 : Column 154W—continued

National Minimum Wage

Lynne Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 27 October 2004, Official Report, columns 1244–245W, on national minimum wage, what the level of underpayment on the national minimum wage was in (a) Birmingham and (b) the West Midlands in each year listed. [195725]

Dawn Primarolo: The Inland Revenue does not maintain separate records for the areas specified.

Stamp Duty

Sue Doughty: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many residential properties sold in England and Wales during 2003 attracted stamp duty at (a) 0 per cent., (b) 1 per cent., (c) 3 per cent. and (d) 4 per cent.; and what the average price paid for a house during 2003 was in each of those stamp duty bands. [194327]

Mr. Timms: The estimate of the number of residential property transactions in each of the stamp duty bands for 2003 and the corresponding average prices are given in the following table. The 0 per cent. band includes transactions between £60,000 and £150,000 in value that have qualified for disadvantaged area relief.
Stamp duty rate
Number of residential property transactions (£000)Average price (£000)

UK Shipping Industry

John McDonnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the value was of financial concessions to the UK shipping industry through the tonnage tax scheme in financial year 2003–04. [194052]

Dawn Primarolo: The latest estimates, for 2002–03 and 2003–04, of the Exchequer cost of the tonnage tax regime can be found on the Inland Revenue's website at
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Data Protection

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what procedures are in place (a) to check the criminal records of civil servants in his Department and agencies responsible to his Department, including the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, who have access to computer databases containing confidential information on the public and (b) to ensure that there can be no improper use of computer databases containing confidential information on the public; and if he will make a statement. [194598]

Charlotte Atkins: All DfT and Agency staff, including DVLA, undergo a Basic Check on recruitment, which includes a self-declaration regarding criminal convictions. Human Resources carry out criminal record
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checks on all DfT posts that require security clearance, and serving staff are required to declare/report any criminal charges/convictions.

To ensure that there can be no improper use of computer databases containing confidential information on the public, DfT and Agencies enforce the "need to know" principle. Appropriate access controls to systems, comprehensive auditing and tracking are also carried out and staff are instructed on computer misuse policies and made aware of current legislation including the Data Protection Act etc.

Air Cargo

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what volume of cargo has arrived at each British airport in each year since 1997. [194705]

Charlotte Atkins: The amount of freight that has arrived at airports in Great Britain with at least one thousand tonnes of freight arriving each year since 1997 to 2003 is set out in the table.
Freight arrived at airports in Great Britain, 1997–2003
Thousand Tonnes

East Midlands6160669399109114
Kent International121320252634
Isle of Man4422112

Civil Aviation Authority,

Departmental Publications (Accessibility)

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many and what proportion of publications issued by his Department are available in (a) Braille, (b) autoprint, (c) large print and (d) easy read format. [194288]

Charlotte Atkins: The Department's policy is to make publicity material available in alternative formats on request. Our rationale for this is based on: budgetary considerations; the fact that many publications are for small, specialist audiences; and that all are placed on the DfT website, which complies fully with accessibility standards. This policy means that of 886 DfT titles held at our distribution centre, 14 are in Braille, 15 are audio cassettes and one is large print.

We also allow anyone to reproduce and distribute our material in alternative formats free of the need for copyright permission.

For the future, we shall be making all major public consultation documents and white papers available in audio and easy read formats.

Level Crossings

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take action to ensure that unmanned pedestrian level crossings of main rail lines are closed where (a) pedestrian usage is low and (b) alternative safe crossings by bridge or tunnel are already available to pedestrians; and if he will make a statement. [194930]

Mr. McNulty: It is for Network Rail, as infrastructure manager, to make applications for orders to close crossings and then for local highway authorities to consider and approve such applications. Highway authorities consider applications for level crossing closures on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport under the Highways Act 1980.

One of the continuing main aims of the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) policy for reducing risks at level crossings is to seek the closure or upgrade of level crossings where this is reasonably practicable; HSE does not support the construction of new level crossings other than in exceptional circumstances. Local people should be consulted on such plans.
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This approach is supported fully by the National Level Crossing Safety Group, which includes HSE, the police, the Rail Safety and Standards Board, Network Rail, railway operators, local authorities, highway authorities and organisations representing level crossing users. Network Rail has produced a level crossing policy and strategy that sets out to reduce the risks associated with level crossings through a variety of methods including a programme of risk assessment to identify reasonably practicable risk reduction measures. Network Rail's overriding principle is to ensure that no new permanent crossings are constructed, other than in exceptional circumstances and it seeks to close existing crossings where this is feasible.

London Bus Drivers

Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many bus drivers employed within the Greater London area were subjected to physical attacks in the last 12 months. [193477]

Charlotte Atkins: Over the period 2003–04, there were 1,270 attacks on bus drivers within the Greater London Area. Data on the nature of assaults are not kept.

Overcrowding (Railways)

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library copies of risk assessments that have been prepared on overcrowding (a) on train services between Worcestershire and Birmingham and (b) on station platforms in (i) Worcestershire and (ii) Birmingham. [194520]

Mr. McNulty: Responsibility for the day-to-day safety, welfare and convenience of passengers using the railway and stations rests with Train Operating Companies (TOCs) and Network Rail. Network Rail, which is responsible for Birmingham New Street station, has undertaken a risk assessment at this station. This risk assessment is an internal Network Rail document. As such it is for them to determine whether to disclose its contents.

No risk assessments have been undertaken for stations in Worcestershire. However as part of its safety monitoring and enforcement responsibilities Her Majesty's Rail Inspectorate (HMRI) has asked Central Trains to provide it with information about how it manages overcrowding risks at stations and on trains. HMRI will write directly to the honourable Gentleman once it has concluded its investigation.

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