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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 14 March 2005

LEADER OF THE HOUSE

Surplus Assets Sales

Mr. Evans: To ask the Leader of the House whether his Office sold any surplus stock on the eBay auction website, in each year since 2000–01. [220942]

Mr. Woolas: No.

Mr. Evans: To ask the Leader of the House what the value of sales of surplus assets from his Office was in each year since 2000–01. [220960]

Mr. Woolas: This Office has not sold any surplus assets since 2000–01.

TRANSPORT

Aircraft Pollution

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the Government intends to respond to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's Report entitled Aircraft in Flight; and if he will make a statement. [221400]

Charlotte Atkins: The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's (RCEP) report The Environmental Effects of Civil Aircraft in Flight" was their response to the Government's 2002 consultation on the future development of air transport in the UK. The Secretary of State for Transport met the chairman of the RCEP, Sir Tom Blundell, in March 2003 to discuss the report. The report was one of over 500,000 responses to the consultation, which informed decisions on The Future of Air Transport" White Paper published in December 2003.

M5

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when an evaluation was last carried out of the need for traffic light controls at Junction 14 on the M5; who was consulted on the results; and whether the results were published. [220902]

Mr. Jamieson: The last evaluation of the need for traffic light controls at Junction 14 on the M5 was undertaken by the Highways Agency in October 2004. The agency consulted South Gloucestershire council, who are the highway authority for the B4509 at Junction 14.

The traffic light controls will prevent traffic queuing back onto the motorway and improve safety for right turning traffic from the B4509 onto the M5, which has been the cause of a number of collisions. In accordance with normal practice, the results of the evaluation were not published.
 
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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transportif he will make a statement on the operation of the newly installed traffic lights at Junction 14 on the M5. [220903]

Mr. Jamieson: The lights at this junction have been installed to help improve safety for all road users by reducing the number of personal injury accidents and decreasing congestion. The Highways Agency and its contractor are currently working to rectify a component problem and the lights should be operational by the end of March.

Motor Cycling Strategy

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effects of the Government's motor cycling strategy, with particular reference to the proposal to amend the Government's guidance on bus lanes, on levels of use of powered two wheelers; and what assessment he has made of the consequent effects of any changes in levels on (a) the Government's objectives to encourage increased walking, cycling and public transport use, (b) the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, (c) overall road safety, (d) pollutant emissions and (e) noise emissions. [220851]

Mr. Jamieson: The National Motorcycling Strategy is a framework for developing policy and action to ensure that motorcycling is fully recognised as a mode of transport. The Department has published research by consultants Halcrow and Rand Europe and WSP into factors affecting the level of use of motorcycles, which included preliminary assessments of environmental effects of greater use, although not specifically in the context of allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes. The Government is aware of a number of concerns relating to motorcycling in bus lanes which is why we are working with local authorities to evaluate the safety and other effects of this before revising our guidance. We will consult widely on any resulting changes to the guidance.

Penalty Payments

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport where responsibility will lie for the collection of penalty payments from train operating companies once the Railways Bill comes into force. [221005]

Mr. McNulty: Penalty payment provisions are contained in some, though not all, passenger rail franchise agreements. Under the Railways Bill, responsibility for passenger rail franchises would pass to the Secretaries of State for Transport and Scotland as appropriate.

Pollution (Ships)

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received regarding the timescale for UK compliance with (a) MARPOL, (b) the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973, (c) the Protocol of 1978 and (d) associated regulations. [221132]

Mr. Jamieson: The United Kingdom has ratified the MARPOL Convention and the protocols to the Convention. The United Kingdom has already implemented Annexes I, II, III and V to MARPOL in
 
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national law, and is in the process of implementing Annexes IV and VI. I have received no representations regarding the timescale for UK compliance with MARPOL.

Rail Services

Mr. Lyons: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will include the introduction of new rolling stock as part of the negotiations for the new East Coast Mainline contract. [220348]

Mr. McNulty: Bidders for the franchise have been allowed to propose their own rolling stock solutions for the provision of the service within the specifications laid out in the Invitation to Tender. This does not exclude new rolling stock as a potential option.

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on increases in rail fares for 2005–06; and what action he plans to take to invest in the rail network and improve services. [220355]

Mr. McNulty: Following the Strategic Rail Authority Fares Review in 2003 we announced that regulated fares would in future rise by RPI plus 1 per cent. from January 2004. This would help redress the balance of funding between the taxpayer and the fare payer. Increases in unregulated fares are a commercial matter for the train operating companies.

Government funding and investment in the rail network continues to run at unprecedented levels. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, made a detailed statement on this matter on 10 February 2005, Official Report, column 93WS.

Regional Offices

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which (a) non-departmental public bodies and (b) Executive agencies within the remit of his Department have regional offices based on the Government offices for the regions' regional structure; and when the regional offices were established in each case. [219885]

Charlotte Atkins: None of the non-departmental public bodies and Executive agencies within the remit of this Department have regional offices based on the Government offices for the regions' regional structure.

SS Richard Montgomery

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of whether there were (a) chemicals and (b) biological weapons or component parts on board the SS Richard Montgomery when it sank in the Thames Estuary. [220435]

Mr. Jamieson: The cargo manifest for the SS Richard Montgomery does not list any chemical or biological weapons, or component parts. However, I have recently commissioned work to examine the current risks posed by the ordnance that remains on board. The results of this study will inform consideration of possible future management options for the wreck.
 
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Thameslink

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the reliability of Thameslink services from Mill Hill and Hendon. [220522]

Mr. McNulty: Reliability problems with the train fleet used by Thameslink during the CTRL blockade affected the performance of its services in the run up to Christmas. Action has been taken to address these problems and performance has since improved.


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