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17 July 2007 : Column 238W—continued

Young People’s Services

31. Simon Hughes: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans he has to assist the voluntary sector in developing its role in providing services for young people. [149825]

Phil Hope: Voluntary sector organisations already play a significant role in delivering services for young people. The Department for Children, Schools and Families leads on policy for young people. Since 2006-07 DCSF has invested over £20 million in funding to voluntary sector organisations through its children, young people and families grant scheme.

Voluntary sector organisation offer significant expertise in developing strategies expertise in developing strategies for children, families and young people. The DCSF has released guidance making it clear that local authorities should engage voluntary and community sector organisations as strategic partners.

Civil Servants: Pensions

Chris Grayling: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the total civil service pension liabilities are. [150044]

Gillian Merron: Information on the most recent estimate of liability for the principal civil service pension scheme is available in the resource accounts 2005-06 of Cabinet Office: Civil Superannuation which is available at:

A copy is also available in the Library for the reference of Members.

Resource accounts showing the liabilities at 31 March 2007 will be laid before Parliament by the summer recess.

Departments: Ministerial Red Boxes

John Hemming: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many ministerial red boxes his Department bought in each of the last five years; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were; and what tendering process was used in selecting them. [150483]

Edward Miliband: Red boxes are used by successive Ministers over a number of years. The specific information requested for the last five years could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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Red boxes are ordered via the Department's stationery contract with Banner Business Supplies. The contract was agreed following a joint competitive procurement procedure with HMRC.

Departments: Public Transport

David Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what estimate the Prime Minister's Office has made of the number of its staff using public transport to commute. [147316]

Gillian Merron: The Cabinet Office has made no such estimate, but the vast majority of Cabinet Office staff (which includes the Prime Minister’s Office) work in central London. It is a realistic assumption that staff travel to and from work by public transport as we have a number of measures in place to encourage more sustainable business travel.

Electronic Government

John Battle: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps the Government are taking to improve accessibility to Government websites; and if he will make a statement. [148181]

Gillian Merron: The Government are committed to ensuring that all Government websites are accessible and easy to use for people, and this includes design and content delivered in a way that is appropriate for the user. The Government have already streamlined the number of websites (down by 551) since April 2006 and will strengthen the and websites by making all citizen and business facing material available through them.

Gift Aid

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what recent discussions he has had with HM Treasury Ministers on promoting the take-up of Gift Aid. [149860]

Phil Hope: I refer the hon. Member to the answer to the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone) given by the then Parliamentary Secretary (Edward Miliband) on 11 June 2007, Official Report, columns 775-76W.

A consultation was launched on 19 June 2007 with the charitable sector on measures to increase take-up of Gift Aid. The Budget also announced the Government’s wish to work with the sector on improving the use of payroll giving and ensuring greater awareness of how to give in a tax-effective way.

Government Communications Network

Norman Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the future (a) role, (b) budget and (c) staffing levels of the Government communications network. [149232]

Gillian Merron: As a virtual organisation, the Government communications network does not directly employ staff but is administered by the Government communication team within Cabinet
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Office. In the future the GCN's role will be to continue to raise professional standards, share best practice and improve the way communications are co-ordinated across departments. The 2007-08 budget of the team supporting the network is £1.5 million.

Office of the Third Sector

John McDonnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much it cost to set up the Office of the Third Sector; and what its running costs are estimated to be in 2007-08. [150422]

Phil Hope: The costs associated with moving the OTS to its new offices, recruiting new staff and the other associated administrative costs were met from within the existing budgets of the two exporting departments and the Cabinet Office.

Details of the administration costs for the Office of the Third Sector in 2007-08 are published in the Central Government Supply Estimates (2007-08) Command Paper [HC 438] on page 655. A copy is available in the Library for the reference of Members.

Olympic Games: Greater London

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what mechanism is in place to ensure co-ordination between her and the Government Olympic Executive. [149226]

Tessa Jowell: The Government Olympic Executive, which remains part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, will report to the Minister for the Olympics through the Permanent Secretary of the Department.


Halifax Railway Station

10. Mrs. Riordan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent expenditure has been incurred on improving facilities at Halifax railway station. [149836]

Mr. Tom Harris: Network Rail and Northern Rail are working with local stakeholders to improve the condition of Halifax railway station. Recent work includes the re-opening of the public toilets at the station, renewal of the station lighting and an improvement in the frequency of station cleaning.

Rail Franchises

11. Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps her Department is taking to apply the lessons learnt from the termination of the Connex franchise to other franchises. [149838]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Department has taken steps to implement the lessons learned from the termination of the Connex franchise. These include awarding franchises on the basis of a balanced assessment of costs and deliverability, more effective risk-based performance monitoring and detailed “operator of last resort” contingency plans.

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First Great Western

12. Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the performance of First Great Western in conducting the Great Western franchise. [149839]

Mr. Tom Harris: Joint action plans are in place between Network Rail and First Great Western to address performance issues. Additionally, First Great Western is implementing a 40-point recovery plan. These are monitored monthly.

In the year to 31 March 2007 First Great Western achieved an average punctuality of 83.2 per cent. across the franchise as a whole.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 12 July 2007 to question 149369, on First Great Western, if she will publish her Department's monitoring results on punctuality, reliability and service quality for First Great Western for the last three months for which statistics are available. [150454]

Mr. Tom Harris: First Great Western service punctuality and reliability were as follows for the last three rail industry periods.

Punctuality (percentage MAA) Reliability (all cancellations)

Period 1



Period 2



Period 3



First Great Western is exceeding its service quality benchmark as stipulated in the franchise agreement.

Flooding: West Yorkshire

13. Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment has been made of the impact of the recent floods on the transport infrastructure in West Yorkshire. [149840]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Government Office for Yorkshire and Humberside has been in contact with local authorities in West Yorkshire for an assessment of the impact on their networks of the recent floods.

Rail Passenger Numbers

14. Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment she has made of likely levels of overcrowding on the railways over the next three years; and if she will make a statement. [149842]

Mr. Tom Harris: We will continue to increase capacity through the franchising process and in other ways.

The high level output specification, to be published this summer, will set out the additional rail capacity that the Government propose to buy to meet the recent and forecast growth in demand for rail travel.

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Airport Security

16. James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions she has had with the Home Secretary on adequacy of airport security since the recent events at Glasgow airport; and if she will make a statement. [149844]

Ruth Kelly: Department for Transport Ministers regularly meet with ministerial colleagues in the course of performing their ministerial duties. Information relating to private meetings, discussion and advice is not normally disclosed as to do so could harm the frankness and candour of discussion. There is regular discussion at official level between this Department and the Home Office regarding security issues of mutual interest.


17. Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will make a statement on the future funding of highway improvements on the A46 between Newark and Widmerpool. [149845]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The East Midlands region has prioritised funding for the dualling of the A46 between Newark and Widmerpool from its indicative regional funding allocation for major transport schemes up to 2015-16.

Midland Mainline

18. Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will take steps to ensure the maintenance of standards of the train service on Midland Mainline to and from Kettering during the remainder of the existing franchise period. [149846]

Mr. Tom Harris: The quality of service obligations contained in the Midland Mainline franchise agreement remain in force until the end of the current franchise and are closely monitored. Additionally, the franchise agreement contains provisions that come into force during the last 12 months of a franchise which ensure the franchisee continues to provide good service and maintain franchise standards and value for the government and the incoming franchisee.

London Underground PPP

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will make a statement on the performance of the London Underground public-private partnership; and what recent assessment she has made of the financial implications for the public purse. [149843]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The public private partnership (PPP) has delivered new trains, refurbished stations and upgraded lines. But it is clear that performance between the two PPP companies has been variable with Metronet, to date, delivering less than was expected and at higher unit costs. It is now for London Underground, working in partnership with Metronet, to agree how to secure the delivery of contract outcomes for the funding committed.

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A1: Gateshead

Mr. Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions she has had with local authorities in Tyne and Wear on the upgrading of the A1 through Gateshead and Newcastle. [149854]

Mr. Tom Harris: I have not yet had an opportunity to meet with the Tyne and Wear local authorities. But I do know that previous Ministers met with them, and that officials of the Highways Agency meet with both officials and members of Gateshead and Newcastle Councils to keep them informed of progress on this scheme.

Accidents: Compensation

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether provision has been made for the payment of compensation to a person injured in a road traffic accident in which the person causing the injury was incapacitated by automatism. [150094]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The statutory requirements to insure the use of a motor vehicle are as set out in part VI of the Road Traffic Act 1988. A person must not use a vehicle on the road unless there is in force in relation to the use of the vehicle by that person a valid policy of insurance in respect of third party risk, or a valid security.

A person injured in a road traffic accident is required under the law on civil liability to prove negligence on the part of the person they consider responsible if they are to succeed in a claim for compensation. Whether a person incapacitated by automatism can be held liable will depend on the circumstances of the case. This is ultimately a matter for the courts.

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