17 Apr 2007 : Column 5WS

Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 17 April 2007

Constitutional Affairs

Mental Capacity Act

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Vera Baird): My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, has made the following written ministerial statement:


Military Repatriation Ceremonies

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): With effect from April 2007 for a period of two years, RAF Lyneham will be used as the primary location for military repatriation ceremonies instead of RAF Brize Norton.

In the event of fatalities resulting from service personnel killed in operational theatres, a repatriation ceremony is held to mark the return to the United Kingdom which family members of the deceased normally attend. With effect from April 2007, work is commencing at RAF Brize Norton to extend the aircraft servicing platform, (the areas of hard-standing around the airfield that are used for aircraft parking). Given the disruptive nature of the work, it will be very difficult to hold a dignified ceremony at the station. Moreover, it would also be very costly to the public purse to temporarily suspend work each time a repatriation ceremony is due to take place. This work is expected to take up to two years until April 2009.

17 Apr 2007 : Column 6WS

The transfer of repatriations from RAF Brize Norton to RAF Lyneham means that the Wiltshire and Swindon coroner will have initial jurisdiction instead of the Oxfordshire coroner throughout the period of these works. We are confident that the Wiltshire and Swindon coroner has the necessary resources to take on this workload and he already has considerable expertise in handling military inquests in consequence of the presence of RAF Lyneham in his jurisdiction as well as Wiltshire being regularly used for military exercises. In addition, the Wiltshire and Swindon coroner is also expected to transfer jurisdiction wherever possible to other coroners—normally to the jurisdiction of the next of kin—following the recent practice of the Oxfordshire coroner.


Gatwick Express

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Tom Harris): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport announced, on 4 April 2007, the results of the recent consultation on the implementation of the Brighton Main Line (BML) Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS). I would like to take this opportunity to inform Parliament of the announcement.

The key conclusion is that the Gatwick Express will be retained as a non-stop service between Gatwick airport and London Victoria every 15 minutes. In addition, at the busiest times of day, the service will also run beyond Gatwick to Brighton, doubling the number of express trains between Brighton and London Victoria in the high peak. Unused carriages will be taken from storage and reconditioned to provide the extra trains. At least two extra trains will also run between Redhill and London in the peak. These changes will provide more than 3,700 seats into and out of London at the busiest times.

To facilitate this change, the existing Gatwick Express franchise will be ended in May 2008 to allow the creation of a new franchise that will include both the Gatwick Express and Southern services. The new Gatwick Express service will begin in December 2008 under the same branding and with the same frequency to and from the airport. Luggage storage will continue to be provided to accommodate the needs of airport passengers.

A stakeholder briefing document, giving summaries of the responses made by stakeholders to the consultation, and outlining how the key decisions were reached, was also published on 4 April 2007. This document has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and can also be downloaded from the Department’s website at:

This is the finalisation of the last of the RUSs that were started by the Strategic Rail Authority. All future RUSs, which are designed to show how the best use may be made of existing network capacity and to assess whether the available capacity can meet medium-term demand, will be led and published by Network Rail.

    Index Home Page