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Heathrow Airport: Public Participation

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) environmental data and (b) model inputs were used in the consultation on Heathrow airport; and if she will place in the Library a copy of her Department’s analysis of the consultation responses. [168357]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The consultation document “Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport”, published on 22 November, is supported by a series of technical documents setting out in detail the underlying modelling, data and assumptions used. These documents are listed in Annex D to the main consultation document. All the documents are available on the Department for Transport’s website: The consultation runs until 27 February 2008 and, in line with Government practice, a summary of consultation responses will be published. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Railway Stations: Security

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the Prime Minister’s statement of 14 November 2007, Official Report, column 667, on national security, what plans her Department has to improve security at (a) overground and (b) London Underground railway stations. [168220]

Mr. Tom Harris [holding answer 26 November 2007]: The Department for Transport already has in place a range of measures to protect our railway systems. Plans to improve on these measures are being worked through with the railway industry with the aim of ensuring a regime which is proportionate and effective while still allowing people to go about their day-to-day business.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s statement mentioned two specific projects which will build on the measures already in place to protect the rail and underground networks from terrorist attacks: passenger screening and physical protection against vehicle bomb attacks.

Passenger Screening

Last year, the Department for Transport undertook a number of trials at London Underground and National Rail stations, to test the effectiveness of passenger screening equipment and explosives sniffer dogs in an operational environment.

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The Department is planning with the British Transport Police (BTP) and other stakeholders how we might increase and improve the screening of passengers and bags, in the light of the evidence from these trials and elsewhere. The aim of such passenger screening would be threefold: deterrence, detection and public reassurance.

We anticipate that this would involve the flexible deployment of dogs and/or portable screening equipment by BTP across the rail network, with a focus on the busiest stations, both overground and London Underground. The exact locations and timing of these deployments would be an operational decision for the British Transport Police.

Physical protection of stations

There are already security measures in place at major railway stations to control normal vehicle access, such as deliveries and staff parking.

Permanent physical vehicle restraints have been installed at the recently-refurbished St. Pancras International station, from which Eurostar now operates. There are agreements in place for similar measures at other key overground and London Underground stations that will be undergoing major redevelopments as part of ‘designing in’ security. For other significant stations, programmes of work are under active consideration.

Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what progress her Department is making on developing a sustainability labelling scheme for renewable transport fuels; [168674]

(2) what assessment she has made of the potential effect of biofuel production on deforestation; [168675]

(3) what assessment she has made of the potential effect of biofuel production on biodiversity; [168676]

(4) what assessment she has made of the effect of biofuel production on orang-utan habitats; [168677]

(5) what assessment she has made of the effect of biofuel production on food prices. [168678]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Government have asked the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership to carry out a feasibility study into a possible sustainability labelling scheme for biofuels. The work is under way and we will publish our findings as soon as possible.

The rapidly increasing global demand for palm oil and other agricultural commodities for use in the food and other sectors has a number of environmental and social consequences. The biofuel sector currently accounts for a very small fraction of total global demand for these products. Current high cereals prices are due to global factors, including two successive lower world wheat harvests, low global stocks and increased demand for cereals from the food, feed and fuels sectors. Growing global demand for biofuels can be expected to increase crop prices but also the supply of crops in the future.

The Government take very seriously the potential risks associated with unsustainable biofuel production, including deforestation, reduction of biodiversity and any more particular threats to endangered species. We have developed a comprehensive carbon and sustainability reporting mechanism as an integral part
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of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) which is due to come into effect in April 2008. This is designed to encourage transport fuel suppliers to ensure the sustainability of their biofuels. We are also pressing the European Commission to introduce a robust mandatory sustainability framework for biofuels as a part of its forthcoming Renewable Energy Directive. We have said that we will not support any higher targets for future biofuel use until we are satisfied that effective sustainability standards are in place.

From April 2008, we will ask the Renewable Fuels Agency to report on a quarterly basis on the sustainability impacts of the RTFO. This will allow us to monitor very closely any adverse impacts of biofuel production. The Government will monitor how markets are affected by growing biofuel demand and will tailor policies accordingly.

Mark Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what scientific (a) reports and (b) evidence she considered prior to introducing her proposal for a Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation. [168141]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Before announcing in November 2005 that it would introduce a Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), the Government carried out extensive public consultation and a detailed feasibility study into the practicality, as well as the likely costs and benefits, of such a scheme. Copies of the study were placed in the House Libraries, and are available via the Department’s website:

As part of the feasibility study, the Government commissioned various reports from experts, including on whether and how greenhouse gas and broader environmental and social assurance schemes should be linked to an RTFO. The Government also took into account a wide range of scientific evidence on the costs and benefits of biofuels as part of the development of policy on the RTFO. This included Government-funded studies by Sheffield Hallam university and the Central Science Laboratory considering the lifecycle benefits and impacts of biofuels. Research published by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in association with the European Council for Automotive Research and Development (EUCAR) and the Oil Companies’ European Organisation for Environment, Health and Safety (CONCAWE)) on biofuels and other potential future transport fuels was also taken into account.

The Government will continue to take into account new scientific evidence on the impacts of biofuels as it becomes available, and will continue to tailor their biofuel policies accordingly.

Roads: Accidents

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research she has commissioned on the accident rates of left-hand and right-hand drive vehicles using UK roads; and whether her Department collects information categorising accidents by driver position. [168008]

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Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department collects information on whether vehicles involved in reported personal injury road accidents in Great Britain are foreign registered and, if they are, whether they are left hand drive, right hand drive or two wheelers. This information has been collected since January 2005 and is published in table 53 of “Road Casualties Great Britain—2006 Annual Report”. Copies of the report have been deposited in the Libraries of the House. This table can also be found on the Department’s website at the following address:

Information on the number of, or distance travelled by, foreign registered vehicles in Great Britain is not separately available and so a rate cannot be calculated.


Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people have worked in her Department on national road pricing in each of the last five years, broken down by grade. [164645]

Ms Rosie Winterton: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 29 October 2007, Official Report, column 878W, (UIN 159129), which in turn referred to earlier answers provided on this subject.


Aircraft Carriers: France

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much he expects the UK to receive from France’s purchase of the Future Aircraft Carrier design; and what the schedule is for payment of this sum. [167368]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 26 November 2007]: Under the Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation signed with France the UK has received £70 million from France in respect of the shared Future Aircraft carrier design. A final payment of £45 million is conditional on France’s decision to manufacture a carrier based on the Common Baseline Design.

Armed Forces: Housing

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many units of (a) married and (b) single accommodation are provided at each barracks in (i) the United Kingdom and (ii) Germany; and what percentage of that accommodation is (A) in use, (B) subject to repair and refurbishment and (C) empty. [168171]

Derek Twigg: The requested information is not held centrally and it will take time to determine what can be provided without incurring disproportionate cost. I will therefore write to my hon. Friend and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with colleagues to identify married quarter voids that can be released to alleviate homelessness. [168242]

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Derek Twigg: In England and Wales most surplus Service Families Accommodation is returned to its owner, Annington Homes Ltd. Its alternative use is not therefore a matter for the Ministry of Defence (MOD). In Scotland, MOD officials maintain close contact with the Scottish Executive and other bodies on this issue. Some properties have been released to housing associations in the past.

Armed Forces: Mortgages

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will hold discussions with the Council of Mortgage Lenders on the treatment of mortgage applications submitted by armed forces personnel who are then posted overseas. [166902]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: We have no plans to hold discussions with the Council of Mortgage Lenders on the treatment of mortgage applications submitted by armed forces personnel who are then posted overseas. There has been no indication of problems in this area but if the hon. Member wishes to give further detail I would be glad to consider it further.

Army: Absenteeism

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel from each regiment or unit were reported as absent without leave in each (a) month and (b) year since 1997. [166982]

Derek Twigg: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Defence Export Services Organisation

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 19 November 2007, Official Report, column 475W, on Defence Export Services Organisation, whether Lord Drayson’s opinion was (a) sought and (b) given before the Prime Minister took the decision to transfer the Defence Export Services Organisation’s responsibilities to UK Trade and Investment. [167777]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 26 November 2007]: It is not our practice to comment on exchanges of views between Ministers that take place in the normal course of formulating, and reaching decisions on, Government policy.

Departmental Buildings

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what funding has been (a) made available and (b) spent to make the buildings occupied by his Department fully accessible to disabled people. [166831]

Derek Twigg: Expenditure on Disability Discrimination Act-related improvements is contained within overall project costs. Thus, this Department does not identify separately either total funding or the amount spent in making alterations to buildings for these purposes.

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Departmental ICT

Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been allocated to the Atlas Consortium defence information infrastructure programme; how much is expected to have been spent on the programme by 31 March 2008; and whether he plans to extend the system to in-theatre forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. [167208]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: As at 20 November 2007, the Ministry of Defence has an approved allocation of £4.068 billion for the fixed element of the Defence Information Infrastructure Future (DII(F)) programme and an approved allocation of £0.384 billion for the deployed element. This total allocation includes £3.372 billion (at current prices, including VAT) for the presently contracted elements of the programme between the MOD and the DII Delivery Partner, the ATLAS Consortium.

Currently, forecast expenditure to 31 March 2008 is £1.2 billion against the approved allocation.

We have already deployed an interim capability to Afghanistan. The first main deployable element of DII(F) now on contract will be available in 2009 to support our military forces wherever they are deployed, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which manufacturers’ software is used in his Department. [167231]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Information on manufacturers’ software is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

HMS Illustrious

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of the last refit of HMS Illustrious. [167531]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The last refit for HMS Illustrious cost £118.6 million.

Influenza: Disease Control

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the guidelines on the use of defence assets in addressing a national crisis, such as an influenza pandemic. [164975]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The guidance for the use of defence assets during civil crises is detailed in the military aid section of the recovery guidance on the Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Secretariat resilience website at:

which is available to all emergency planners.

In summary, the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 mandates that category 1 responders (emergency services) and category 2 responders (e.g. utility companies) must develop contingency plans for civil crises. Apart from the niche capabilities guaranteed by Defence, the guidance states that armed forces are not to be included in the
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contingency plans, as it is not possible to define in advance what assets can be provided by Defence. MOD is none the less working with the CCS to define what further Defence capabilities are most likely to be required in the event of a major national crisis.

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