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2 Dec 2009 : Column 767W—continued

Railways: Bridges

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what steps his Department is taking to ensure the structural integrity of railway bridges in England. [302803]

Chris Mole: The structural integrity of railway bridges in England is an operational matter for Network Rail as owner and operator of the national network, and the company has its own teams of structures engineers.

The funding and efficiency of the maintenance and renewal activity by Network Rail on its own bridges is determined and monitored by the independent Office of Rail Regulation as part of its determination of the company's outputs and funding for each five-year control period.

Network Rail-owned bridges over railways most commonly carry local authority roads. In England, under the Railway Bridges (Load Bearing Standards) Regulations (England and Wales) Order 1972 (SI 1705/1972), they are statutorily required to be able to carry 24 imperial tons. They are covered by a national programme of assessment and works and a national cost sharing agreement with local authorities relating to the costs of assessment and strengthening.

Railways: Standards

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent estimate he has made of the (a) fastest, (b) average and (c) slowest journey times between (i) London and Edinburgh, (ii) Edinburgh and Aberdeen and (iii) London and Aberdeen following the introduction of the new Intercity Express trains; and if he will provide the same information in respect of existing journey times. [301247]

Chris Mole [holding answer 24 November 2009]: The introduction of Super Express Trains would see a more standardised pattern of train services throughout the day, not just the occasional headline train on routes as is the case today, resulting in less variance in the fastest/slowest/average journey times.

All future journey times remain indicative until the timetable has been finalised which will be a result of the forthcoming East Coast franchise specification process.

Current journey times
Journey times Fastest Slowest Average

London (Kings Cross)-Edinburgh












Indicative future Super Express journey times
Journey times Fastest Slowest Average













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Thameslink Railway Line: Industrial Disputes

Anne Main: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the outcomes are of his Department's monitoring of the effects on train services of First Capital Connect train drivers choosing to work only their contracted hours; what assessment he has made of the effects of such action on routes other than the Bedford to Brighton route; how many other routes have been affected to date; what steps he is taking to resolve the situation; and what assessment he has made of the extent to which First Capital Connect can deliver on its franchise requirements while such action persists. [303263]

Chris Mole [holding answer 1 December 2009]: Officials at the Department for Transport are ensuring that the amended timetables that First Capital Connect is operating look to protect the first and last services of the day for all First Capital Connect routes; provide a balanced service during the day; and provide replacement bus services where appropriate. First Capital Connect is obliged to reinstate trains when resources are available and this is happening when possible.

No assessment has been made of the effects of the action on other routes, but there is a notable increase in passengers using First Capital Connect services on the Great Northern route during peak periods. In addition, First Capital Connect has arranged for its tickets to be valid on Southern services between Brighton, Sutton, Wimbledon and intermediate stations to Victoria, as well as on Stagecoach South West Trains services between Wimbledon and Waterloo.

First Capital Connect Thameslink tickets can also be used on the Tramlink services and on London underground and buses on all reasonable routes. Further, on the Great Northern route, First Capital Connect will when necessary arrange for their passengers to be able to use the East Coast services between Peterborough and London.

First Capital Connect is in negotiation with the unions to resolve this matter and all parties are urged to resolve this unacceptable situation.

The Department for Transport is monitoring First Capital Connect's ability to deliver their franchise requirements in accordance with their contractual commitments and we will take appropriate action to ensure compliance.

Train Operating Companies: Complaints

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what information his Department holds on the complaints received by each railway operator about its services in each of the last 10 years. [302196]

Chris Mole: The Department for Transport collects statistics from each train operating company on the complaints it receives about its services. These are then passed to the Office of Rail Regulation for publication in National Rail Trends. These figures are available from the financial year 2002-03. National Rail Trends is available in the Libraries of the House or on the Office of Rail Regulation's website:

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Trust Ports

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport when an assessment was last made of the monetary value of the assets of Trust Ports. [303312]

Paul Clark: No assessment of the monetary value of the assets of the Trust Ports has been undertaken by the Government.

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport when he next plans to assess the monetary value of assets of Trust Ports. [303313]

Paul Clark: I have no plans to assess the monetary value of assets of Trust Ports.


Departmental Internet

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the cost was of maintaining his Department's website in the 2008-09 financial year; and what the forecast cost is of maintaining websites within his responsibility in the 2009-10 financial year. [302407]

Mr. Hain: The cost of hosting and maintaining the Wales Office website in 2008-09 was £6,054.55, the forecast spend on this for the current financial year is £7,976. The costs in 2008-09 were lower as the first three months had been paid on set up of the new website in January 2008.

Departmental Pay

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much was claimed in reimbursable expenses by press officers in his Department in (a) 2006-07 and (b) 2007-08. [303766]

Mr. Hain: Wales Office press officers are appointed to work in both London and Cardiff offices, and elsewhere with Ministers, as required. They will be reimbursed for travelling and subsistence expenses incurred in their duties. The sums paid in each of the last two years were:






Additionally, depending where they are based on appointment, their terms and conditions may include civil service detached duty allowances to reflect costs incurred in living away from home.

Departmental Public Expenditure

Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will provide a breakdown by category of the annually managed expenditure of his Department's budget for 2009. [302522]

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Mr. Hain: The Wales Office does not have annually managed expenditure, its budget is purely resource DEL (Departmental Expenditure Limit).

Departmental Taxis

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many miles (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department travelled by taxi in the course of their official duties in each year since 1997; and at what cost to the public purse in each such year. [302714]

Mr. Hain: The information is as follows:

(a) and (b) This information is not held centrally.

My Department has spent the following amounts on taxis:
















Leader of the House

Departmental Training

Grant Shapps: To ask the Leader of the House what training sessions were attended by (a) Ministers and (b) special advisers in her Office at public expense in each of the last three years. [302947]

Barbara Keeley: The Office of the Leader of the House of Commons joined the Cabinet Office in June 2007. Information prior to this date can be provided only at disproportionate costs.

Since June 2007 Ministers in the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons have taken up training courses provided by the National School of Government and Sara Jones Associates Ltd. No training sessions have been attended by special advisers in the Leader of the House of Commons Office since June 2007.

Training is provided to Ministers and Special Advisers as part of their induction and continuing development in order to carry out their respective duties effectively under the Ministerial Code and the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers. Details of training provided to Government Ministers by the National School of Government are publicly available and can be found at:

Members: Allowances

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Leader of the House how much Sir Thomas Legg's work on hon. Members' expenses is expected to cost. [302637]

Barbara Keeley: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer provided to the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) on 22 October 2009, Official R eport, column 1630W:

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Theft: Prosecutions

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will request the Director of Public Prosecutions to review the policy of the Crown Prosecution Service on prosecutions for offences of theft from shops. [302132]

The Solicitor-General: There is no discrete CPS policy on prosecutions for shop theft. Decisions on whether to prosecute a person for offences of theft from a shop, in common with all decisions on prosecution, are made in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors which provides general principles to be applied when balancing public interest factors for and against prosecution.

The Code for Crown Prosecutors is currently under review and is the subject of a public consultation exercise which closes on 11 January 2010.

Work and Pensions


Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how long on average it took an 18 to 24 year-old on jobseeker's allowance to get a full-time paid job in (a) the UK, (b) England, (c) the North East and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency in the latest period for which figures are available. [301751]

Ms Butler: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Jil Matheson, dated November 2009:

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