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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): The return expedition to the wreck of the "Derbyshire" will take place in two phases. The first phase will be a limited sonar and photographic survey of the wreckage field, to be carried out in late June or early July by Oceaneering Technologies, who undertook the initial expedition in 1994. It is expected that the main expedition will take place early next year. The Department of Transport and the European Commission are sharing the costs of both phases.
The first phase will involve a detailed survey of the wreckage field with the aim of identifying individual parts of the ship and, in particular, to establish the location and accessibility of the ship's stern. The material collected is intended to assist in the detailed planning of the main expedition.
The purpose of the return to the "Derbyshire" is to see what lessons can be learnt from the loss of this particular ship which could help avoid future bulker losses and the continuing loss of life such losses involve. Planning and control of both phases rests with three independent technical assessors. Ministry of Defence officials will act as project managers overseeing the activities of the appointed contractor or contractors.
On completion of the second phase they will prepare a report on their findings and conclusions which will be submitted to Ministers and the European Commission. Their report will be published and, following its completion, the data recovered will be made available to interested parties.
It is possible that this report may lead to the reopening of the Formal Investigation into the loss of the "Derbyshire" and the taking forward of specific safety initiatives through the International Maritime Organization.
We have given sympathetic consideration to the request from the Derbyshire Families Association that they should be represented on, or have a degree of control over, the return to the ship. We have concluded that this would not be appropriate. The association is one of a number of parties with an interest in the outcome of the return expedition. For one of these parties, but not the others, to be represented on the return expedition could lead to suggestions that the findings lacked balance or objectivity. For all the parties to be represented on the return would be impractical given the nature of the operations to be undertaken. To allow the independent assessors to complete their task, without any risk that they could be considered to have
Viscount Goschen: The Department's national road traffic forecasts apply to Great Britain. Forecasts used in the analysis of transport problems or road improvements are made for the affected area, and can overlap the borders of England, Scotland and Wales.
The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie): No. The funding of international exchanges of medical research scientists is a matter for individual Departments and Research Councils (primarily the Medical Research Council), to determine on the basis of the scientific merit of such exchanges and in the light of their own overall policy
Information on every BSE case in the country is recorded on a computer database, which includes details of the date of slaughter of each BSE suspect and the full address of the holding on which the animal was resident. The database also maintains a cumulative record of the number of BSE cases in each county. To provide the information the noble Lord requested has necessitated a specific interrogation programme to be written for the computer database and a dedicated run of the computer assigned to providing the information.
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