Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

OECD Convention on Combating Bribery

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): The UK ratified the OECD convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions on 14 December 1999. The convention itself came into force on 15 February 1999.

Tigris Dam

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

20 May 1999 : Column WA58

Lord Simon of Highbury: Ministers are currently considering this case and have yet to make a decision on whether ECGD support should be made available for this project. The question of riparian rights is one of the issues which is being addressed.

Minicab Licensing

Lord Brabazon of Tara asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they are making in implementing the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998.[HL2458]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The department will shortly be publishing, jointly with the Public Carriage Office, a consultation document on the licensing of minicab operators in London with a view to introducing operator licensing later this year. It is envisaged that private hire drivers and vehicles will be licensed during the course of next year.

Severn Rail Tunnel

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 31 March (WA 49), on how many occasions in each of the last two years rails of the permanent way through the Severn rail tunnel have been found to be cracked or damaged; and on how many occasions it has been brought to the attention of the Health and Safety Railway Inspectorate.[HL2452]

Lord Whitty: Incidences of cracked or damaged rails are not statutorily reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995. However, during the last two years there have been four incidents of broken rails in the Severn tunnel. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) informs me that its inspectors were aware of these incidents on each occasion.

Vodafone Planning Application

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to call in the recent planning decision by West Berkshire Council to grant Vodafone permission for a site.[HL2459]

Lord Whitty: Following its resolution to approve Vodafone's planning application, West Berkshire District Council will be referring the application to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions as it is a departure from the development plan for the area. When the application is received, the Secretary of State will consider whether it raises issues that would warrant his intervention in accordance with the call-in criteria. I will write to the noble Baroness again when this decision has been made.

20 May 1999 : Column WA59

Audit Commission Procedures

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What procedures the Audit Commission adopts to ensure that individual auditors apply consistent interpretations of local government law and practice; and[HL2432]

    What supervisory role the Audit Commission exercises over the work of appointed auditors; and[HL2433]

    What reviews comparing individual auditors' decisions have been carried out by the Audit Commission.[HL2434]

Lord Whitty: Requirements as to how auditors discharge their functions are specified in the Audit Commission's Code of Audit Practice which is issued under Section 4(1) of the Audit Commission Act 1998 and approved by Parliament. Auditors discharge all professional responsibilities independently both of the commission and its officers and of the body under audit. Although the commission has no powers to intervene in the individual decisions of auditors, it monitors the performance of auditors through a quality control review process which is designed to ensure compliance with the Code of Audit Practice and professional auditing standards and to identify best practice.

Audit Fees

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What powers a local authority possesses to recover audit fees and costs paid to an appointed auditor whose professional calculations of loss in surcharge proceedings brought by him against members and officers of that local authority have been discounted by a court.[HL2435]

Lord Whitty: Audited bodies pay fees to the Audit Commission according to a scale or scales of fees set by the commission under Section 7 of the Audit Commission Act 1998. Thee are no powers for fees paid for work done to be recovered.

Penalty Fares: London Underground Staff

Lord Phillips of Sudbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether staff working in the London Underground receive directly or indirectly any share of or reward for penalty fares collected by them or at the Underground stations where they work.[HL2465]

20 May 1999 : Column WA60

Lord Whitty: Staff working for London Underground receive no share of or reward for penalty fares collected either by them individually or at the stations at which they work.

Fare Evasion: London Underground

The Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much money London Underground has lost through fare evasion per annum from 1988-89 to the present; how these figures are calculated; and how these figures are substantiated.[HL2431]

Lord Whitty: LT's estimate of the net revenue loss through passengers travelling irregularly is as follows:

£ million

* ticket operated gates were introduced in the central area during 1990.

** penalty fares were introduced during 1994.

These figures are derived from quarterly surveys of approximately 40,000 passengers, carried out by plain clothes revenue control inspectors on board trains. These surveys establish the proportion of Underground passengers travelling irregularly (although not necessarily fraudulently in the legal sense). That percentage is then grossed up proportionately to total Underground patronage to determine the full potential revenue loss at average fare rates.

The resulting estimates have been validated successfully against the direct effect on revenue when station control exercises are held. These are when teams of London Underground Revenue Control Inspectors prevent entry to or exit from a station or group of stations without a valid ticket. The figures are also validated against econometric analysis of LUL receipts against a number of possible explanatory factors, including the installation of automatic ticket gates and penalty fare changes.

   Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page