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25 Apr 2007 : Column 1110W—continued


A detailed breakdown by operator is not held by the Department for Transport but by the British Transport police who can be contacted at: British Transport police, 25 Camden Road, London NW1 9LN, e-mail:

Channel Tunnel Railway Line

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to increase the speed of Eurostar trains between the Channel Tunnel and London; and if he will make a statement. [133758]

Mr. Tom Harris: The operation of the Eurostar trains is a matter for Eurostar and London and Continental Railways as operator of the railway on which they run, and not for the Secretary of State. There are no current plans to increase the speed of Eurostar trains.

Section 2 of the Channel Tunnel rail link, now known as high speed 1, will open on 14 November 2007. As a result journey times to the Channel Tunnel from London will reduce by some 23 to 25 minutes.

It needs to be borne in mind that higher speeds require additional power and the right balance needs to be struck between keeping journey times short and carbon emissions down.

The speed of the trains on high speed 1 is governed by the design speed of the railway based on track geometry, and the maximum speed of the trains themselves. The maximum speed of the current Eurostar train sets is around 335 kph based on the 2003 record run on section 1. The scheduled line speed between Ebbsfleet and the Channel Tunnel is 275 kph, although trains can travel at up to 300 kph if necessary.

Pedicabs

Mr. Scott: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received since June 2006 on the application of traffic regulations to pedicabs. [132726]

Gillian Merron: Since June 2006, the Secretary of State has received representations from the Minister for Housing and Planning, the hon. Member for Regent's Park and Kensington, North (Ms Buck), Peter Hendy, Commissioner of Transport for London and Martin Low, director of transportation at Westminster city council.

Railways: Accidents

Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the progress of the rail accident investigation into the Oxenholme derailment. [133590]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Rail Accident Investigation Branch is continuing with its investigation into the
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derailment and expects to publish a second interim report once its investigation into the condition of the points is complete.

Railways: Air Pollution

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate has been made of the potential change in carbon dioxide emissions of operating longer trains. [133479]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Department has not made such an estimate. However, the Department recognises the carbon advantages that longer trains offer compared to other modes in meeting underlying demand. Based on average occupancy levels, trains produce around half the carbon emissions of cars per passenger kilometre.

Railways: Bicycles

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what requirement exists for train operating companies (a) to carry and (b) to provide space for carrying bicycles on their trains; and if he will make a statement. [133452]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Department has formally adopted as its own policy the Strategic Rail Authority cycling policy document published in November 2004. It expects all train operating companies to accommodate the carriage of non folding bicycles whenever possible, while recognising that in peak periods there may be circumstances where it is in the best interests of the majority of passengers not to do so.

We believe that TOCs are best placed to know where and when such pressure on capacity exists and should be free to impose restrictions accordingly. TOCs should also specify the services that they define as peak. The carriage of folding bikes is recommended at all times.

The Department has asked Cycling England, its advisory body on cycling, to report on how further improvements to integrate bike and rail journeys might be made.

Railways: Stockport

Ann Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the proposed service frequency is for Stockport in the invitation to tender issued by DfT Rail for New Cross Country; and if he will make a statement. [133889]

Mr. Tom Harris: The specification for the New Cross Country franchise requires Stockport to be served by a minimum of one train per hour in each direction. Bidders are free to stop more trains at Stockport if they believe that there is a call to do so and they can reach and agreement with Network Rail.

Railways: Traffic Congestion

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate has been made of the potential reduction in motor vehicle journeys due to the extra capacity on the rail network. [133478]


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Mr. Tom Harris: No estimate has been made of the reduction in motor vehicle journeys due to the extra capacity that will be provided on the rail network.

Rolling Stock

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the 1,000 new carriages in the high level output specification to which he referred in his speech to the rail conference on 14 March 2007 are in addition to any previously existing orders or anticipated orders which provide additional capacity rather than replacing other existing stock; how he expects any additional capacity to be funded; by whom he expects it to be funded; and if he will make a statement. [132504]

Mr. Tom Harris: The 1,000 new carriages will be in addition to any pre-existing orders. It is too early to predict how many of the existing fleet of approximately 11,400 rail carriages will be replaced by 2014. I can, however, reiterate the Government intention to commit to contracting with train operators for 1,000 additional carriages by 2014 to meet the rising demand for rail travel. This will form part of the capacity procured through the rail high level output specification to be published in July and will be in addition to any carriage replacements. The HLOS will be accompanied by a statement of funds available.

Rolling Stock: Virgin Trains

Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the 1,000 new train carriages announced on 14 March 2007 will include the 106 carriages needed to reduce congestion on Virgin’s Pendolino trains. [133299]

Mr. Tom Harris: It is too early to say where precisely the additional rolling stock will be used. The deployment of the new rolling stock will be agreed with the industry following the publication of the high level output specification and the long-term rail strategy this summer, in accordance with the periodic review timetable set out in the Office of Rail Regulation’s advice to Ministers published in February 2007.

House of Commons Commission

Fruit

Norman Baker: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what quantity of (a) fruit and (b) vegetables was purchased by the Refreshment Department in each of the last three years; what the cost of these purchases was in each year; and if the Commission will estimate what percentage of each of these items was imported. [131066]

Nick Harvey: Accounts have not yet been finalised for the full year ending March 2007, but during the 11 months to February 2007, the Refreshment Department spent an estimated (a) £103,000 on the purchase of fresh fruit and (b) £290,000 on the purchase of fresh
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vegetables. Many fruit and vegetables are purchased by individual piece or bunch, not by weight or any other consistent measure, and so it is not possible to give an overall estimate of the quantity of fruit and vegetables purchased. If the hon. Member wishes to know the estimated quantity of specific items purchased during this period, he should write to the director of catering services, who will be pleased to let him have such details.

Detailed purchase information is not currently available for the year 2005-06 due to technical issues that are being investigated by the software supplier. The director of catering services will write to the hon. Member with the purchase expenditure for fruit and vegetables when the requested information becomes available. No information is available for previous years.

No record is kept of the country of origin of fruit and vegetables purchased and so it is not possible to estimate the percentage of imported produce.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peace Keeping Operations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many comfort boxes sent to UK military personnel in (a) Afghanistan and (b) Iraq have been robbed (i) in transit and (ii) on arrival in theatre since the beginning of the current engagement. [132765]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 20 April 2007]: As these incidents occurred at various times and places, the Royal Military Police have been asked to gather all the reports together. Once the details have been collated, I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what security measures he is taking to prevent comfort boxes sent to UK military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan from being robbed. [132766]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 20 April 2007]: Comfort boxes are secured in a standard transport container, using a security seal, by the unit concerned. Containers are then transported to a UK port, shipped by sea to the relevant port for the theatre and off-loaded prior to being transported using road transport to the location in-theatre where they are handed back to the unit, at which point the seals are checked again. From this point, containers are transported by road to the unit’s base location.

The Royal Military Police are currently gathering information on any thefts that have occurred during transit. Once the details have been collated and any possible improvements to container security in transit have been identified, I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Armed Forces: Casualties

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 22 February 2007, Official Report, column 854W, on the armed forces: casualties, whether the full board of inquiry report has
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been made available to the next of kin; and if he will place a copy in the Library. [133167]

Mr. Ingram: The remainder of the board of inquiry report into the death of Private Jason Smith, redacted in accordance with Data Protection and Freedom of Information Act considerations, has been made available to his next of kin, through their solicitor.

The redacted board of inquiry report will be added to the Ministry of Defence publication scheme and a copy will be placed in the Library of the House.

Armed Forces: Inquests

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his statement of 17 April, on service personnel killed on operations: changes to arrangements for repatriation, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the resources available to the Wiltshire and Swindon coroner to carry out military inquests. [132983]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 23 April 2007]: The MOD engaged fully with the Wiltshire and Swindon coroner’s office and Wiltshire county council during the planning stages to change the repatriation airhead from RAF Brize Norton to RAF Lynham. The Wiltshire and Swindon coroner plans to transfer as many inquests as he can to the jurisdiction of the “home” coroner.

Armed Forces: Northern Ireland

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans his Department has to mark the 40(th) anniversary of the deployment of troops to Northern Ireland in 1969; and what representations he has received on the matter. [133149]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence does not intend to formally mark the 40(th) anniversary of the deployment of troops, although we are currently looking at appropriate ways of marking the end of Operation Banner which concludes on 31 July 2007. I hope to be in a position to announce the Department’s plans to the House soon. The Department has received four representations from hon. Members on this topic and a number of inquiries from members of the public.

Armed Forces: Pay

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how he made the calculation that the impact of the Budget on the lowest paid members of the armed forces who are single is that they will be worse off by the equivalent of £1 per week. [131081]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 16 April 2007]: The calculation is based on the impact of the income tax rates and allowances for 2007-08 given in the Budget report, together with the reforms to personal tax which come into effect on 1 April 2008.

Those with children may benefit from changes to the child element of child tax credit and the working tax credit threshold.

Other relevant recent changes to armed forces remuneration include the pay rise for all service
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personnel which came into effect on 1 April 2007, when the annual salary of the lowest paid fully trained service personnel increased from £14,323 to £15,677—an increase in gross pay of £26 per week; and the new operational bonus introduced in October, which amounts to £12.31 per day, tax free, for all those deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, or the Balkans.

Ballistic Missile Defence: USA

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the risks and benefits to the UK of allowing the US to install a ballistic missile defence system on British territory. [130966]

Des Browne: The UK already makes a valuable contribution to the US ballistic missile defence system through the programme to upgrade RAF Fylingdales. In 2002 the Ministry of Defence published a public discussion paper on missile defence, copies of which are available in the Library of the House and on the MOD website:

Defence and Communications Services Agency

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the cost has been of the project to rationalise communication systems in the Defence and Communications Services Agency; how many (a) consultants and (b) contractors have been employed in its implementation; at what cost; and if he will make a statement; [133001]

(2) what assessment he has made of the implementation of the Defence and Communication Services Agency's information technology project; whether he plans to establish an independent review of the programme; and if he will make a statement; [133009]

(3) what the role of the ATLAS consortium was in the information technology rationalisation link; what the cost was of the Defence Information Infrastructure final solutions programme; and how many contractors were employed in its implementation. [133010]

Derek Twigg: Defence information infrastructure (Future) (DII(F)) is a £4 billion programme over 10 years, which will provide a single, coherent information infrastructure across defence. Its implementation, on an incremental basis, will underpin MOD’s change programme and modernising Government agenda.


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