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11 Jan 2005 : Column 380W—continued


Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the means by which the Staffords will retain their separate regimental identity once they have been integrated into the new Mercian Regiment. [206900]

Mr. Hoon: As I announced on 16 December 2004, the Cheshires, the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters and the Staffords will amalgamate to form the Mercian Regiment which will have three regular battalions. There will be scope for battalions to retain a degree of individual identity within the new large regiments. For example, antecedent names will be maintained at battalion level in brackets after the new regimental name. How this can be achieved in other ways will be for the new regiment to decide in due course.
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Swan Hunter

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what financial support has the Department given to Swan Hunter shipyard in each of the last 30 years. [206391]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence does not provide financial support to the defence industry.

The lead Department for policy relating to Government financial support to industry is the Department of Trade and Industry.


Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the annual training requirement is for Principal Warfare Officers; and whether it has been fulfilled this year. [206930]

Mr. Ingram: In Financial Year 2003–04, 40 Principal Warfare Officers (PWO) were required and 40 trained. It is anticipated that 39 will be trained in FY 2004–05 and in 2005–06. This is expected to meet the Navy's presently forecast requirements.


Select Committees (Legislation)

39. Tony Wright: To ask the Leader of the House if he will make proposals to the Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House to enable Select Committees to introduce legislation. [207402]

Mr. Woolas: My right hon. Friend has no plans to do so. It is, of course, already open to any Member to introduce legislation. The question is whether bills initiated by Select Committees should have priority over other non-Government Bills.

Sitting Hours

43. Mr. Mackay: To ask the Leader of the House if he will make a statement on changes to sitting hours of the House. [207406]

Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given by my right hon. Friend, the Leader of the House, to the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Ms Munn) earlier today.


Bicycle Lights

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it the policy of the Government that bicycle lights which flash, pulsate or
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comprise light emitting diodes shall be deemed to satisfy the requirement that bicycles ridden at night should have lights. [207636]

Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 10 January 2005]: Bicycle lights which comprise light emitting diodes and that conform to British Standard BS6102:3 are already deemed to satisfy the requirement for bicycles ridden at night to have lights. My Department is currently considering a change in legislation to allow the use of flashing lights on pedal cycles.

Cats Eyes

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the Government's policy is towards the use of cats eyes on unlit roads; what the reasons are for the policy; and if he will make a statement. [207215]

Mr. Jamieson: The Department for Transport's advice on the use of cats eyes is set out in section 6 of Chapter 5 of the Traffic Signs Manual. A new edition was published last year. Because they remain effective in wet weather and particularly in areas prone to fog, when reflectorised road markings perform less well, they are recommended on all high-speed roads. Their use is compulsory with double white line systems, when the normal spacing is closed up to 4.5 metres, because it is essential for safety reasons that drivers recognise the lines in all weather conditions.

Dial-a-Ride Buses

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what steps he has taken to promote dial-a-ride bus services; and what assessment he has made of the take-up of these services; [207729]

(2) if he will list those areas in which dial-a-ride bus services are in operation; and if he will make a statement. [207730]

Charlotte Atkins: In February 2004 regulations were introduced to make it easier to run registered local bus services in England and Wales for the general public whose routes and timings vary subject to passenger demand. The Department undertook a series of seminars across the regions to highlight the new flexibilities and encourage take up of this new type of service.

Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) was also extended to cover flexibly-routed local bus services in England and Wales. Bus registration and BSOG in Scotland are devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

96 services have been registered with the Traffic Commissioners to date.
Traffic area officeTotal applications receivedNewVariation of existing registrationAcceptedRefusedWithdrawnAwaiting information from operator
North East2522322102
North West322012121460
West Midlands1515015000

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This is in addition to the specialised dial-a-ride services provided by the voluntary transport sector which have long operated in many areas.

Eurostar (North Kent)

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects domestic passengers from North Kent rail stations to be able to use Eurostar to and from London. [207031]

Mr. McNulty: The future of services in North Kent announced will be announced shortly, when the Invitation to Tender for the new Integrated Kent Franchise is issued to bidders.

Hybrid Engine Cars

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action he is taking to develop hybrid engine cars. [206921]

Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 10 January 2005]: The Government provides a number of incentives to encourage the purchase and use of clean, low carbon vehicles, including hybrid vehicles. The Vehicle Excise Duty regime, for example, rewards the purchase of the most fuel-efficient vehicles, with additional discounts for hybrid vehicles. The company car tax system introduced in April 2002 provides very large incentives to encourage the purchase of clean, fuel-efficient cars, with hybrid vehicles enjoying a significant additional discount.

The Government also funds two grant programmes, run by the Energy Saving Trust, which are designed to encourage the development and market uptake of more environmentally friendly (lower CO 2 and/or air pollutant-emitting) vehicles and vehicle technologies, including hybrids. The New Vehicle Technology Fund provides grants for projects to develop demonstration vehicles for new technologies which reduce the CO 2 emissions and/or air pollutant emissions such as NOx and particulates. During 2004–05 18 projects have been funded, of which 11 involve hybrid technology. The grant allocation for the New Vehicle Technology Fund in 2004–05 is £4.6 million.

The Powershift grant programme is also funded by Government, to provide grants to individuals and undertakings to purchase vehicles which are proven to
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have reduced CO 2 and/or air pollutant emissions, in order to encourage their uptake. So far during 2004–05, grants have been awarded towards the purchase of 1,053 hybrid cars, which represents 42 per cent. of the total number of vehicles funded.

As we announced on 21 December 2004, following our recent consultation exercise, we intend to revise the grant programmes so as to incentivise the cleanest cars regardless of the technology or fuel type, while ensuring that grant levels are also consistent with European rules on state aid. A full copy of the press release can be accessed on the Department for Transport's website, at:

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