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British Passports: Application Fee

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: For applications made by post the fee for issuing a British passport in the United Kingdom is currently £21 and for a child under 16, £11 for a five-year validity passport. There is an additional fee of £10 for applications made in person.

The fee for issuing a British passport at the British Embassy in Washington DC 19 is currently £43 and for a child under 16, £25 for a five-year validity passport.

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Jubilee Line Extension

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Asnwer by Lord Whitty on 27 May (WA 113), whether they can confirm the dates given for opening the Jubilee Line extension and the stations thereof; if not, whether they will give the currently estimated dates of opening; and on what date they became aware that the dates given in the 27 May reply were no longer valid.[HL4363]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): As explained in the response of 27 May, London Transport opened phase 1, between Stratford and North Greenwich, on 14 May. This section includes Stratford, West Ham, Canning Town and North Greenwich stations.

Phase 2, which includes six further stations (Canary Wharf, Canada Water, Bermondsey, London Bridge, Southwark and Waterloo), was scheduled to open in late summer. I can now confirm that it opened from Stratford to Bermondsey on 17 September and on to Waterloo on 24 September. Two stations on the latter section did not open on that date: London Bridge (which opened on 7 October) and Southwark station, which will open during November.

The final phase will involve joining with the existing Jubilee Line to offer a seven days per week through-service from Stratford to Stanmore. Trial operations are taking place and the section is scheduled to open within the month. The section includes Westminster Jubilee Line station which will open a little later. When through running starts, the Charing Cross Jubilee Line station will cease to operate.

Airport Security Staff: Right to Search and Question

The Earl of Dartmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What rights airport security staff have in relation to searching and questioning private citizens, what is the statutory or other basis for these rights, and whether the police are obliged to take representations or requests for action from airport security staff more seriously than those made by private citizens.[HL4397]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston : Aerodrome managers are required to search passengers and the items they carry before they may enter restricted zones of airports. Searches must be to a standard sufficient for the aerodrome manager to be satisifed that no prohibited articles are carried. Separately, aircraft operators are required to question passengers at check-in about their baggage in order to identify whether there has been opportunity for the baggage to be interfered with. Searches and questioning may be carried out by employees or agents of the aerodrome

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manager and aircraft operator. These requirements are set down in legally enforceable directions made under the Aviation Security Act 1982 (as amended by the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990) and are to protect the travelling public from acts of unlawful interference.

Train Signals Passed at Danger

The Marquess of Ailesbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action is routinely taken by each train operating company against drivers who pass red signals; and whether in each case they will indicate whether there has been any change since the major accident outside Paddington.[HL4491]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: A Railway Group Standard on signals passed at danger (SPADs) sets out the requirements for both Railtrack and train operating companies (TOCs) on investigating incidents of SPADs. Under this standard, a TOC must review its own safety arrangements and, where relevant, the suitability of a driver to continue in his or her duties if he or she has been involved in three or more SPADs. A driver who is assessed as no longer competent or fit must under the Railways (Safety Critical Work) Regulations 1994 be relieved of his or her duties.

The Health and Safety Executive's HM Railway Inspectorate (HMRI) wrote to all TOCs shortly after the accident at Ladbroke Grove seeking assurances that effective means were being implemented to ensure that all drivers were fully briefed, and reminding them of the likely cause of SPADs and ways in which to avoid them. TOCs were also instructed to review immediately the effectiveness of their driver briefings and to implement necessary improvements in order to maximise the effectiveness of these briefings. The Chief Inspector of Railways also wrote to all TOCs on 22 October to reinforce the letter of 7 October and to ask TOCs to forward details of action they are taking to reduce the numbers of SPADs. This information is currently being collected and analysed by HMRI.

A common standard for immediate investigation of all SPAD incidents is one of the items in the immediate plan for improving railway safety that my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister agreed with rail industry leaders on 25 October.

Seaborne Trade

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of British (a) imports and (b) exports pass through British sea ports.[HL4443]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The last published estimates, based on analyses carried out by the former Department of Transport, are for 1996 when seaborne trade was estimated to account for 93 per cent of UK

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imports and 97 per cent of UK exports in terms of tonnage. In terms of value, the equivalent share was 75 per cent for both imports and exports.

The estimates are derived from overseas trade statistics. However, changes in the arrangements for collecting statistics on intra-EU trade following the introduction of the single market in 1993 have made the mode of transport analyses unreliable and compilation of this information ceased after 1996.

Bus Ticket Irregularities

The Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the procedures whereby London Regional Transport brings prosecutions against bus passengers for bus ticket irregularities will be made public; and whether they will place a copy of such procedures in the Library of the House.[HL4326]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): These are operational matters for London Regional Transport. I understand that LT's bus revenue enforcement officers are trained to establish whether the irregularity detected was an intentional act of fare evasion. The evidence for a possible prosecution is then reviewed prior to a decision being taken to commence the legal process.

Transport Needs of Visually Impaired People

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consideration they have given to the Royal National Institute for the Blind's recent report Rights of Way; and what action he will be taking.[HL4396]

Lord Whitty: This report provides a useful overview of the transport needs of visually impaired people. The department has been working with blind and partially sighted people over many years to improve their independent mobility. It is clear that we are already tackling many of the issues which the report highlights.

For example, the regulations we are introducing under the Disability Discrimination Act requiring access for disabled people to buses, trains and taxis will include features to meet the needs of visually impaired people. The regulations covering access to trains were introduced from the beginning of this year and in the last few days we concluded the consultation on the draft accessibility regulations for buses and coaches.

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We will continue to work with visually impaired people and their organisations to ensure that these improvements, together with greater emphasis on driver training and information, enable blind and partially sighted people to travel with confidence.

Organophosphate Compounds: HSE Form

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect the revised Health and Safety Executive form MS17 to be published; and to whom it will be distributed.[HL4405]

Lord Whitty: Guidance Note MS17, retitled Medical Aspects of Work Related Exposures to Organophosphates, will be finalised following publication of the Committee on Toxicity report into organophosphates. It is anticipated that the revised MS17 will be published during March 2000.

Discussion is currently underway with other government departments as to the most appropriate way to ensure that the publication of MS17 and its content reach the defined target audience, namely health professionals involved in the surveillance of workers who use organophosphate compounds.

Whitham Bypass: Screening Planting

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they propose to take to ensure Braintree District Council does not interfere with the shrubbery and other screening planting on land owned by the Highways Agency along the A.12 Whitham bypass in Essex.[HL4425]

Lord Whitty: The Highways Agency held a meeting with Braintree District Council about this matter on 16 September. At that meeting the Highways Agency reiterated that it would not be willing to allow Braintree District Council to cut back or remove screening planting for commercial purposes. There has been no further development since this time.

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