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Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which specialist teams working on complicated tax credit cases at the Tax Credit Office, were referred to in correspondence of 4 October between the Tax Credit Office and the hon. Member for Birkenhead regarding the tax credits of his constituent of Corporation Road, Birkenhead; and what the size of each is. 
Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 24 October 2005]: The specialist team referred to in the Tax Credit Office's letter to the right hon. Gentleman is a technical advice team. Team members provide technical advice and support to TCO staff. The team consists of around 12 full-time equivalent staff.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many full-time equivalent staff were employed by the Valuation Office Agency in each year since 1997; and what the estimated established staff for (a) 200506 and (b) 200607 is. 
Dawn Primarolo: The numbers of full-time equivalent staff, employed by the Valuation Office Agency, in each year since 1997, are shown in the table. Staff numbers rose to a peak of 5,416 in August 2005 to support the council tax revaluation. The estimate of established staff for (a) 2005 to 2006 is 4,800 and although the final figure is yet to be determined for (b) 2006 to 2007 it is expected to be approximately 4,300.
|Number of staff|
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what powers (a) staff and (b) contractors of the Valuation Office Agency have to forcibly inspect a property for a council tax valuation in circumstances where the resident refuses entry to the (i) inside of the premises and (ii) land surrounding the property. 
DVLA publish a leaflet (V149) each year detailing current vehicle excise duty rates. I have arranged for copies of these leaflets going back to 1976 to be placed in the Library of the House.
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Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department has spent on improvements to A roads in the UK since 1997; and if he will list the transport budgets for each region for 200506. 
Our allocations for local transport capital investment for 200506 to regions (excluding London) are set out in the following table. This covers expenditure on local authority major transport schemes, integrated transport block and local road capital maintenance funding.
|Region||Major schemes(5)||Integrated transport block allocation(6)||Local road capital maintenance|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||49,921||79,635||76,588|
Dr. Ladyman: Public consultation on the proposed upgrade of the A21 from Pembury to Hastings was carried out in 200203. The consultation included specific proposals for the Flimwell to Robertsbridge section. The Highways Agency and East Sussex county council held further consultation during February/March 2004 for the A21 Baldslow Link at Hastings, which included proposals for the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road. There are no immediate plans to carry out public consultation on specific proposals for the section between Robertsbridge and Baldslow.
The Air Transport White Paper supports the growth of regional airports to serve local and regional demand, and includes a range of measures designed to facilitate their development.
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Any airline from outside the EU, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland which wishes to pick up or put down passengers or cargo in the UK requires a permit from the Secretary of State for Transport. It is a condition of the permit that the airline's aircraft should be operated in accordance with international safety standards. Any individual aircraft that does not meet those standards would be refused a permit.
In addition, it is a condition of the permit that aircraft meet the environmental standards in Annex 16 to the Chicago Convention. Aircraft unable to meet the current ICAO noise certification requirements (Chapter 3 of Annex 16, Volume 1 or better) are not permitted unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he is satisfied that the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority has a sufficient number of qualified safety experts among its managerial staff; 
Derek Twigg: The Channel Tunnel Safety Authority (CTSA) is not a body that directly employs safety experts. It has, however, access to safety experts employed by the Health and Safety Executive and the Kent Fire and Rescue Service, some of whom spend a significant proportion of their time on CTSA work, and from similar organisations in France.
It also has access to safety expertise in other British and French organisations. The Channel Tunnel Safety Authority's Annual Report indicates the bodies that have provided advice during the year covered by the report.
The time spent by safety experts on CTSA work in any year will depend on the needs of the Authority for advice and assistance in that year. I am satisfied that the CTSA has adequate access to qualified safety experts.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the results were of bi-national exercises to test emergency procedures held on (a) 15 April 2004 at Folkestone Fire Station (UK COMEX), (b) 30 June 2004 on the French side of service tunnel (VALEX) and (c) 19 September 2004 in the UK led annual exercise BINAT 15; and if he will place reports of these results in the Library. 
Derek Twigg: The results of these exercises, which are to test emergency procedures, are summarised in the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority Annual Report 200405 at paragraph 53. Given that the full reports, which are agreed between the French and British emergency response organisations and Eurotunnel, detail the preparedness of the organisations concerned in respect of emergency situations including those arising from terrorist attack, it is not proposed to make them public.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment he has made of whether the reliability rate of the crossover doors in the channel tunnel is at levels deemed reasonable by the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority; 
Derek Twigg: In the year from 1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005, the reliability rates of the crossover doors have been better than the figure regarded as acceptable by the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority (a 5 per cent. probability that the doors would fail when required to operate). The failure rates have been, on average, lower than this, at 3.7 per cent. on the UK side and 4.7 per cent. on the French side of the tunnel. A programme of modification of the doors, which is under way, is leading to a further improvement in the situation.
The Channel Tunnel Safety Authority's Annual Report for 200405 notes that there have been occasions when the target monthly failure rate has been exceeded, but points out the limited number of operations and the fact that overall, the failure rate is lower than the target and is decreasing.
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