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Written Answers

Monday, 13th January 1997.

"Sea Empress": Clean-up Operation

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the MPCU have produced a report on the clean-up operation following the "Sea Empress" oil spill in Milford Haven in February last year.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): The Coastguard Agency issued the Marine Pollution Control Unit's report on the "Sea Empress" clean-up operation on 9th January. Copies have been placed in the Library.

40-Tonne Lorries: Strengthening of Road Structures

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will provide figures for each region in England, and separately for roads which are the responsibility of local authorities and the Highways Agency, for:

    (a) the estimated total number of structures which required assessment to carry 40-tonne lorries;

    (b) the total number of structures so far assessed;

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    (c) the total number of structures so far identified as requiring strengthening and the estimated total cost of this work.

Viscount Goschen: The figures requested are shown in the following tables. It is not possible at the present time to provide an accurate estimate of the cost of outstanding strengthening work for local authority structures. Based on expenditure to date, strengthening all structures bearing local authority roads which are assessed as being unable to meet modern loading standards could cost between £1 billion and £1.5 billion. However, not all of these structures will necessarily require strengthening. A number of other measures are available to both local authorities and the Highways Agency, such as propping, weight restrictions and other traffic management measures.

Structures Bearing Local Authority Roads

Government Office AreaNumber which required assessment AEstimated Number assessed to 31.3.97 BNumber requiring action C
South East5,4693,722463
South West8,7534,956402
West Midlands5,3723,302433
North West5,8223,508798
North East2,0351,227250
Yorkshire and Humberside5,0752,302537
East Midlands4,7823,335550

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Highways Agency Structures

Region DNumber which required assessment ANumber assessed so far (to 31st July 1996)Number so far identified as required strengthening ECost of strengthening so far identified (£ million) E


A Assessments are required to ensure that structures can continue safely to carry existing traffic loading as well as proposed new 40-tonne lorries.

B These numbers are based on information provided by local authorities as part of their 1997-98 Transport Policies and Programme submissions. The figures for assessment show those structures which local authorities expect to have assessed by March 1997. A further 10,000 structures are programmed for assessment in 1997-98.

C This shows those structures which had been assessed as of July 1996 and which require work to enable them to bear 40-tonne lorries from 1999, but which have not already been strengthened.

D Data for the Highways Agency cannot readily be disaggregated other than into its own four operating regions.

E These figures include those structures which have already been strengthened.

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London Underground: Employee Activities

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many London Underground employees are engaged in:

    (a) day-to-day operations

    (b) maintenance of trains and other assets

    (c) replacement of life-expired assets

    (d) new works

    (e) management and head office.

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Viscount Goschen: The information is not available in the form requested.

However, London Transport have estimated the average numbers of London Underground employees engaged in the following activities during 1995-96:

ActivityAverage Number
Passenger Services11,134
New Works (Jubilee Line Extension and Crossrail)883
Other Departments256

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In addition, a number of London Transport employees provide services to its subsidiary, London Underground. These employees are not included in the above figures.

Insolvent Companies: Transfer of Assets

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is legally possible for an insolvent limited company to transfer its gross and entire assets free from liabilities to another company with the same directors, thereby making it impossible for creditors of the insolvent company to collect any part of the debts due to them.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie): An insolvent company may transfer its assets, independently of its liabilities, to another company, whether or not with the same directors. A proper price should be paid and the insolvent company's creditors can then exercise their rights under the law to recover the debt due to them. Where assets are transferred for less than their value, insolvency and corporate law provides remedies and sanctions, both civil and criminal, which may be invoked where appropriate.

War Pensions: Reasons for Award

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the approximate numbers of former members of the armed forces receiving pensions from the War Pensions Agency as a result of:

    (a) wounds or deterioration in health due to enemy action, or to service in a theatre of operations, during a war;

    (b) disabilities or impairment of health arising from their service, but unconnected with a war or actions by a hostile state or force.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The War Pensions Agency does not maintain a statistical breakdown of awards due to war and other service. The information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Children Dependent on Income Support

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many children are dependent on income support in (a) England and (b) Scotland; and what

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    percentage of those under 16 each of these figures represents.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The information is in the table.

Children in families receiving income support February 1996

Number of childrenPercentage of under 16's


1. Numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand, percentages to the nearest whole percent.

2. Sample size 5 per cent.

3. Children are defined as aged 15 and under.

4. Percentages reflect the number of children in families receiving income support as a proportion of all children in each respective country, based on Office of National Statistics 1995 mid-term estimates of the population.


1. Income Support Statistics Quarterly Enquiry February 1996.

2. Office of National Statistics mid-term estimates of the population 1995.

Income Support Recipients

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people are in receipt of income support; what percentage of the population over 18 this represents; and how many of the recipients are (a) of pensionable age, (b) in receipt of a disability premium and (c) registered unemployed.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: On the basis of the Income support Quarterly Enquiry February 1996, the latest available data, it is estimated that there are 5,710,000 recipients of income support, of whom 1,573,000 are of pensionable age, 769,000 receive the disability premium and 1,656,000 are registered as unemployed.

The total number in receipt of income support, which may include some persons aged 16 or 17, represent, on the basis of the 1995 mid-term estimate by the Office of National Statistics, 13 per cent. of the total population aged 18 and over.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990: Review of Schedule 3

Lord Winston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement by Baroness Cumberlege on 5th December (H.L. Deb., cols. 831-832), when the promised review of Schedule 3 to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 will be set up; what its composition will be; and by when it will report.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The Secretary of State for Health expects to announce shortly details of the review of the requirement in

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Schedule 3 to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 for consent to be in writing.

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